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US would 'welcome' ailing Chinese dissident for medical treatment

© AFP | An activist holds a poster of terminally-ill Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo on the sidelines of a vigil for him in Hong Kong on June 29, 2017.Liu wants Chinese authorities to let him get treatment abroad, friends say, as officials said his cancer has spread throughout his body. The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009 for "subversion" after calling for democratic reforms, was released on medical parole after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer last month, his lawyer said this week.

WASHINGTON (AFP) - 

Washington on Tuesday invited cancer-stricken Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo to come to the United States for medical treatment, renewing its call for Beijing to free him.

"We continue to call on the Chinese authorities for his full parole, and also for the release of his wife," US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

"We continue to call on China to release him so that he can receive medical treatment wherever he desires. If it's in the United States, I think we would certainly welcome that," the spokeswoman said.

Nauert said the United States was pleased that US and German medical experts have been able to visit the terminally-ill cancer patient.

"The State Department was involved in helping to get a US doctor.... to China to be able to take a look at him," she said. "There was also a German doctor that was in attendance, too."

Nauert added that Washington is worried not only about the welfare of Liu, 61, but of other dissidents held by China.

"The State Department remains deeply concerned about the continued detention of at least seven defense lawyers and rights defenders, and reports of their alleged torture and denial of access to independent legal counsel," she said.

"We urge the Chinese authorities to immediately release those still in detention and drop the charges."

Liu's heath has deteriorated since authorities revealed last month that he had been transferred from prison to a hospital due to late-stage liver cancer.

But Chinese officials have ignored calls by international human rights groups, Western governments and local activists to grant the prominent democracy advocate's wish to be treated abroad.

Liu has an abdominal infection, organ dysfunction and he went into septic shock, the hospital said in a statement on its website.

He is undergoing kidney dialysis, and is getting anti-infection and organ function support therapy.

Liu was arrested in 2008 after co-writing Charter 08, a bold petition that called for the protection of basic human rights and reform of China's one-party Communist system.

He was sentenced to 11 years in prison in December 2009 for "subversion". At the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo in 2010, he was represented by an empty chair.

© 2017 AFP