Two foreign specialists who visited Liu Xiaobo said Sunday that the cancer-stricken Nobel Peace Prize laureate can safely travel abroad for treatment, contradicting statements by Chinese experts who say a medical evacuation would be unsafe for China's best-known political prisoner. Dr. Markus Buchler of Heidelberg University and Dr. Joseph Herman of the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas said their home institutions will accept Liu, but any evacuation would have to take place "as quickly as possible." Liu was diagnosed in May with late-stage liver cancer while serving an 11-year sentence for inciting subversion by advocating sweeping political reforms that would end China's one-party rule. For weeks, family and supporters asked for Liu to be allowed to receive treatment abroad, arguing authorities are keeping him in China only out of political considerations.
Buchler and Herman "acknowledged" the quality of care Liu has received in Shenyang, reports the AP. But they said that Liu expressed a desire to leave China, and that they judged that he "can be safely transported with appropriate medical evacuation care and support." Liu's lawyer said that any decision by Chinese authorities to still keep Liu would amount to "intentionally hastening his death" and "refusing to honor the wishes of a dying man to receive the treatment he desires." The hospital itself released a brief online statement late Saturday that quoted an unnamed Chinese expert as saying it would be unsafe for Liu to travel abroad. "Letting him fly away from his hell would be a massive psychological boost, stronger than any medicine you can give him," says a friend and fellow dissident. "It will improve his final days, so he will die with dignity—and in the free world." (Read more Liu Xiaobo stories.)