But Mr Liu, 61, has served his last sentence: the Nobel Peace Prize victor has been released from prison on compassionate grounds after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer.
The manifesto Liu helped write, “Charter 08“, called for a broad set of changes in China, including a new constitution, to bring about a more democratic system, though it stopped short of calling for the overthrow of the Communist Party.
According to the Nobel website, Liu has constantly denied the charges. “You need medical parole for that”.
“We are shocked and devastated to learn that [Liu] has been suffering from cancer in China’s brutal prison environment”.
“It seems to be very serious, very serious”, said Shang Baojun, Liu’s lawyer, according to the New York Times.
On May 23 Liu was diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer.
Beijing has hit back at Washington for “irresponsible remarks” after the U.S. criticised its treatment of Chinese Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo.
While he was in prison, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded Liu the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for his “long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”.
The United States called for his release.
Friends of the couple said Madam Liu has been allowed to visit her husband in hospital.
Amnesty International has asked Chinese authorities to ensure adequate medical care for Liu, granting him access to his family and immediate release of Liu and his family members from imprisonment.
The prison bureau of Liaoning province announced via social media that “well-known tumor experts” are attending Liu in his Shenyang hospital, but fellow activists and sources close to the family say they have no way to be sure that he is indeed being properly treated.
The Chinese government has criticized those pushing for Liu’s release and termed it as an attempt “to interfere with its sovereignty”. “With the exception of a few relatives, Liu Xiaobo is not able to have contact with anyone in the outside world, including his lawyers”, Mo said.
Still, Mo said he was unaware of Liu’s cancer diagnosis until it was revealed on Monday. After six years and concessions by Norway that raised concerns among human rights advocates, the two countries announced in December 2016 that they had normalized relations.
Liu, 61, has worked as a literary critic and university lecturer in Beijing and was involved in the 1989 student protests in Tiananmen Square.
In an interview conducted by AFP, US embassy spokeswoman Mary Beth Polley said: “We call on the Chinese authorities to not only release Mr. Liu but also to allow his wife Ms. Liu Xia out of house arrest“.
As China’s power and influence have increased, Western democracies have collectively engaged in self-censorship on human rights, choosing to prioritize what they have clearly believed to be their more important interests over their purported values.
As recently as February, Liu Xiaobo’s brother dismissed reports that the Nobel Peace laureate might be ill in prison.
Since coming to power in 2012, Chinese president, Xi Jinping has launched a series of crackdowns on civil society in an attempt to silence feminist activists, human rights lawyers and book publishers.
“At a time when China wants to have a greater global role, it is only fitting that it should show humanity and compassion towards a man who has never committed any violent crime, but has dedicated his life to literature and free expression”, it said on its website.