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Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo dies

14 July 2017

Mourning his death, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Liu was a "courageous fighter for civil rights and freedom of expression", while the French, British and US governments called on China to allow Liu's family to move around freely.

The 61-year-old democracy activist died yesterday from liver cancer while under heavy police guard at a hospital in the northeastern city of Shenyang - but most Chinese remain clueless about his death or even who he was.

He is credited with saving lives in the Tiananmen Square student protests of June 1989, which ended in bloodshed when they were quashed by government troops.

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. Norway's prime minister eluded questions about Liu while he was hospitalized and simply expressed "great sadness" after he died.

Liu was arrested most recently in 2008, after he helped initiate Charter 08, a bold petition calling for democracy, the rule of law and an end to censorship.

"We urge China to remove all restrictions on the movement of his wife Ms Liu Xia".

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As worldwide media descended on the hospital that had been treating Liu for more than a month, most locals appeared to be oblivious about the political prisoner, whose name is extremely sensitive in the Communist country.

His doctors said that Liu Xia was by her husband's side when the moment finally came.

Jared Genser, a United States lawyer who represented Liu, said all contact with Liu Xia had been cut off in the past 48 hours.

Liu's U.S. lawyer, Jared Genser, who had arranged a medical evacuation for the laureate that was never used, had kinder words for the American efforts.

Berit Reiss-Andersen, chairwoman of Nobel Peace Prize committee, said her visa to China to attend Liu's funeral had been rejected amid speculation that Beijing was trying to avoid a publicity around Liu's funeral.

Another friend, Zhang Huanping, said she had also not heard from her. "Xiami, your pain, persecution, loneliness and helplessness go without saying", Zhang tweeted, referring to Liu Xia by her nickname.

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Switzerland was among western countries offering Liu the possibility to receive medical treatment. The official Xinhua news agency, which had not mentioned his hospitalization, reported his death in English.

"There are only two words to describe how we feel right now: grief and fury", family friend and activist Wu Yangwei, better known by his penname Ye Du, said by phone.

"I want to urge the world, urge the world leaders, that you failed to save Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo", he said. Within days, Liu's wife, the artist and poet Liu Xia, was put under house arrest, despite not being convicted of any crime.

But the government said Liu was being treated by renowned Chinese cancer experts and the hospital said he was too sick to travel.

On a rainy night in the summer of 2012, Hu stood outside Liu's apartment and aimed a laser pointer at the window of her study.

"The struggle for Human Rights is peace building", Thorbjørn Jagland, who is still a member of the Nobel committee, said on Twitter.

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The newspaper had tweeted a since-deleted message in Chinese on Sina Weibo - Twitter's equivalent in China - mocking the global reactions to Liu's death: "The person's gone but a blockbuster tear-jerker is just on - we'll sit back and enjoy the show".

Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo dies