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'Concerned' US urges release of China's Nobel laureate

© HANDOUT/AFP | This undated video grab obtained July 11, 2017 shows Chinese Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo surrounded by doctors and his wife Liu Xia at an undisclosed location. The US government has expressed concern about the cancer-stricken democracy activist

WASHINGTON (AFP) - 

The US government expressed concern Wednesday about the status of China's Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and urged Beijing to release the cancer-stricken democracy activist and his wife so he can receive appropriate medical care.

"We remain concerned that both Mr. Liu and his family are unable to communicate with the outside world and that he is not free to seek the medical treatment of his choosing," White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told a press briefing.

"We continue to call on the Chinese authorities to grant him full parole and to release his wife from house arrest, and provide them the protections and freedoms -- such as freedom of movement and access to appropriate medical care -- consistent with the Chinese constitution, legal system and international commitments."

Washington expressed its concern as 61-year-old Liu's condition worsened Wednesday, with his hospital stating he suffered respiratory failure and his liver function had deteriorated.

The First Hospital of China Medical University, in the northeastern city of Shenyang, said Liu's family declined to have him put on artificial ventilation, which was necessary "to maintain life."

The Chinese government has rebuffed international appeals to let Liu seek treatment abroad, saying he is getting the best possible care from top domestic doctors.

A German and a US doctor visited Liu last weekend and said he was still strong enough to fulfill his wish to go abroad, but the hospital has issued increasingly pessimistic reports every day since then.

© 2017 AFP