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Nobel committee blames China for Liu's death

Liu Xiaobo can travel abroad for cancer treatment

Liu, 61, was being treated for late-stage liver cancer. "We are here, with Xiaobo".

In 1989, Liu, then a visiting scholar at Columbia University, returned to Beijing to participate in the 1989 democracy movement in China and started a hunger strike at Tiananmen Square with other activists. "Liu Xiaobo was the definition of civic courage and human dignity - a poet and intellectual who wanted, and strove for, a better future for his country". The official death toll is unknown, but estimates range from several hundred to thousands of people killed.

In Charter 08, Liu described freedom as a basic universal value. It was only the first of four imprisonments.

"Liu Xiaobo was the true embodiment of the democratic, non-violent ideals he so ardently advocated".

The Nobel award was only one milestone in a struggle for democracy that stretched back to the Tiananmen protests in 1989 and included three lengthy stints behind bars. "I have seen many episodes where suddenly the hero gets degraded into the devil and the devil becomes the hero", he said, referring to previous shifts in China's political system. A furious Beijing subsequently placed his wife under house arrest.

Despite the Nobel Committee being independent from the government, China froze diplomatic ties with Norway - although relations have warmed in recent months.

China punished Norway by suspending political and economic ties - including salmon imports from Norway - until previous year, when Oslo promised to respect "China's core interests and major concerns".

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Dozens of Liu's supporters were prevented from leaving the country to accept the award on his behalf.

But he became a global figure when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010 at a ceremony where he was represented by an empty chair.

In response to calls to allow Liu to leave China, the foreign ministry repeatedly said other countries should not interfere in China's internal affairs, using the same line on Thursday before his death was announced.

Berit Reiss-Anderson, the leader of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, told Reuters in an emailed statement that the government of China "bears a heavy responsibility for his premature death". But it also leveled harsh criticism at the "free world" for its "hesitant, belated reactions" to his serious illness and imprisonment.

The doctors released a statement saying that he could be "safely transported with appropriate medical evacuation care and support", but said, "However, the medical evacuation would have to take place as quickly as possible".

Human rights group Amnesty International said Mr Liu was "a giant of human rights. a man of fierce intellect, principle, wit and above all humanity".

A protester displays pictures of jailed Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia during a demonstration outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, Thursday, July 13, 2017. The middle child in a family of five boys, he was among the first to attend Jilin University when college entrance examinations resumed after the chaotic 1966-76 Cultural Revolution. The two nations only mended fences past year.

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