Liu Xiaobo: Hospital says dissident's health worsening

Veteran activist Albert Ho prepares to host a parcel to terminally-ill Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo at the General Post Office in Hong Kong

China has faced global calls to give Liu the option to get treatment overseas after he was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer.

Friends of Liu Xiaobo and his wife, the poet Liu Xia, released an open letter requesting to be allowed to visit him on a "humanitarian basis" after learning his condition had worsened.

The family member said that Liu's two brothers will head to Shenyang - where Liu is being treated - to see him on Saturday.

The dissident was diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer in May. Beijing has also come under fire from human rights groups over its treatment of Liu and for waiting until the Nobel Peace Prize victor became terminally sick to take him out of prison.

The hospital statement also included the names of some of the experts, including Dr. Mao Yilei, a reputed expert on liver cancer at the prestigious Peking Union Medical College Hospital, who conducted another round of group consultations on the day when the statement was released, which was most likely Thursday. The message claimed that doctors stopped treating Liu with anti-cancer drugs, as well as traditional Chinese medicine.

Liu could be heard describing how prison officials had been taking good care of him, especially his health, and expressing his gratitude to them. The news comes just before Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the G20 summit in Hamburg on Friday.

His most recent conviction, on Christmas Day 2009, stemmed from his co-authorship of Charter 08, a manifesto calling for political reform and human rights in China.

At a press conference, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said the government "hopes that other countries will respect China's sovereignty... a country under the rule of law, where everyone is equal in front of the law".

Friends of Liu have circulated a photo showing his wife feeding him as he sits next to a hospital bed.

He is also known for his efforts to help negotiate the safe exit from Tiananmen Square of thousands of student demonstrators on the night of June 3-4, 1989 when the military violently suppressed six weeks of protests in the heart of Beijing.

Activist and dissident Hu Jia on Thursday accused China's Communist Party of denying Liu his freedom, which he said would be the best possible treatment.

"All this is suggesting that he seems to be in his last days now", Poon, who has spoken to friends of Liu, told AFP. In 2010, while in prison, Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for "his long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights in China" - prompting an infuriated Beijing to place his wife under house arrest and freeze diplomatic ties with Norway, where the prize victor is chosen. "They won't want her to speak freely".

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