Jailed Nobel Peace laureate and Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has been released on medical parole after being diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer, his lawyer said Monday. Liu was in stable condition at China Medical University's No. 1 Affiliated Hospital in the northeastern city of Shenyang, lawyer Mo Shaoping told the AP. Liu was diagnosed on May 23, Mo added. It wasn't immediately clear if Liu was being allowed visitations. Liu, China's best-known political prisoner, was sentenced to 11 years in prison after being convicted of inciting state subversion in 2009 for co-writing and disseminating Charter '08, a document calling for democracy. The following year, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, a move that has greatly angered the Chinese government. In April, Beijing normalized its relations with Oslo after a six-year hiatus.
The news of Liu's diagnosis shocked and saddened fellow human rights activists in China. "It's known that Liu Xiaobo and his family have made a tremendous sacrifice for the cause of freedom and democracy for China," says Shanghai-based legal scholar and human rights activist Zhang Xuezhong. "This is unfortunate news for him and his family, and it's a blow to China's democracy movement, as so many people have placed hope in him, and rightfully so." Without further information on Liu's medical condition, Zhang says that "his life is so important that I think he should get the best possible treatment with full knowledge of his family, even if it means some compromises" with the government. A rep for China's foreign ministry says he wasn't aware of the latest development in Liu's case. (Read more Liu Xiaobo stories.)