China's Most Famous Prisoner Dead at 61

Liu Xiaobo had been diagnosed with cancer, denied opportunity to seek treatment abroad
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2017 9:04 AM CDT
Famous Chinese Dissident Dead at 61
In this 2005 file photo, Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo speaks during an interview in China.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News, File)

Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo has died at age 61, the AP reports. Liu, the country's most prominent political prisoner, was first put behind bars in 1989 in connection with the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests. His fourth and last prison sentence, for inciting subversion thanks to his work advocating for more human rights and political reforms in China, began in 2008, BuzzFeed reports. He was awarded the Nobel in 2010. Liu, who had been hospitalized for advanced liver cancer that was diagnosed in May, died of multiple organ failure. China had said he was receiving the best care in the country and that he wasn't medically cleared to travel abroad for treatment, but doctors had recently disagreed. The White House had renewed calls for Liu's release this week, the Guardian reports.

He died in a hospital in China, still under police custody, making him the second Nobel Peace Prize winner to die while in custody. Friends, supporters, and fellow activists are expressing their grief over his death, with some calling for Liu's wife, Liu Xia, to be allowed to leave China, the AP reports. She was put under house arrest after Liu won the Nobel, despite having been convicted of no crime; China was angered by the prize being awarded to Liu. Liu was a visiting scholar at New York's Columbia University when he returned to China in May 1989 to join the movement challenging the Communist Party; his first prison sentence lasted almost two years. He was detained again in 1995 after writing a plea for political reform, then again later that year for co-authoring another paper regarding problems in China. That sentence lasted three years. (Read more Liu Xiaobo stories.)

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