China is accused of 'political murder' as Liu dies
Beijing was accused yesterday of bearing a "heavy responsibility" for the "premature" death of Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel Peace laureate and China's most well-known political prisoner.
Mr Liu died at a heavily guarded hospital after a battle with liver cancer.
The death of the 61-year-old dissident and veteran of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 sent shock waves through China's activist community and human rights campaigners across the world.
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said Mr Liu was a "courageous fighter", while the leader of the Norwegian Nobel Committee accused Beijing of having a "heavy responsibility for his premature death".
Rex Tillerson, the United States' secretary of state, expressed condolences over the death of Mr Liu and called on Beijing to release his wife, Liu Xia, and allow her to leave China.
Despite increasingly desperate calls from supporters for him to be granted his dying wish to receive treatment for his condition abroad, Mr Liu remained in China where he died yesterday evening, local officials said.
His friends claim China's refusal to allow him to travel overseas was a deliberate attempt to shorten his life, to ensure he could not criticise Beijing in his final moments.
"I think it is a political murder," Hu Jia, an activist and friend of Mr Liu said. "I am in so much pain, but I have no more tears to shed as I have already cried too much over the past few days."
Mr Liu was handed an 11-year prison term for calling for sweeping political reforms in a manifesto entitled 'Charter 08'. He became only the third person to receive a Nobel Peace award while imprisoned by his own government, and the first to die in custody since tuberculosis killed Carl von Ossietzky (48), a German pacifist, in 1938.
Mr Liu spent time in prison in China before 2009, and was already the country's most famous government critic when he was sentenced for his part in 'Charter 08'. But he became a global figure when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010 at a ceremony where he was represented by an empty chair. (© Daily Telegraph, London)