The Latest: Chinese media say Liu was victim misled by West





SHENYANG, China (AP) - The Latest on the death of imprisoned Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died Thursday night in the northeastern city of Shenyang following a battle with liver cancer (all times local):

11:30 a.m.

A Chinese Communist Party newspaper says the late Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo was a pawn of Western public opinion whose legacy would soon fade.

In an editorial Friday headlined "Liu Xiaobo a victim led astray by West," the nationalist tabloid Global Times said China's most famous political prisoner lived a "tragic life" because he sought to confront Chinese mainstream society with outside support.

Liu, a prolific essayist and literary critic, died Thursday of liver cancer while serving an 11-year prison sentence for incitement to subversion. He was 61.

Liu was only the second Nobel Peace Prize winner to die in prison. The first, Carl von Ossietzky, died from tuberculosis in Germany in 1938 while serving a sentence for opposing Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime.

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6 a.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Chinese political prisoner Liu Xiaobo.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer says in a brief statement, "The President's heartfelt condolences go out to Liu Xiaobo's wife, Liu Xia, and his family and friends. "

The United States had called on China's government to let the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and democracy activist seek medical care at a location of his choosing. But China considered such requests to be interference in its own affairs and considered Liu a criminal.

The White House statement does not offer any criticism of China or of Liu's case.

Liu's wife remains under house arrest.

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2:30 a.m.

China has rejected foreign criticism of Beijing's handling of the illness from which imprisoned Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo died Thursday.

The Foreign Ministry in Beijing, in an early morning statement Friday, says China made "all-out efforts" to treat Liu after he was diagnosed with liver cancer while in prison.

The statement says foreign countries "are in no position to make improper remarks" over the handling of Liu's case, which Beijing sees as a domestic affair.

Liu's death has triggered a flurry of calls from Western governments and officials for Beijing to let his wife leave China as she wishes.

Human rights groups and some governments had earlier urged Beijing to release Liu so that he could seek treatment abroad, but China rebuffed such suggestions, saying he was already getting the best care possible.

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2 a.m.

The United Nations says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was "deeply saddened" to learn of the death of imprisoned Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiabo.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Thursday that the U.N. chief sent his condolences to Liu's family and friends. But he had no comment when asked whether Guterres had a view on whether Liu, China's most prominent political prisoner, should have been allowed to travel abroad for treatment or about his wife.

Guterres' tepid reaction was a sharp contrast to that of U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, who called Liu "China's iconic peace and democracy figure" and urged Chinese authorities to guarantee his wife, Liu Xia, "freedom of movement, and allow her to travel abroad should she wish so."

Zeid said Liu "devoted his life to defending and promoting human rights, peacefully and consistently," and "was the definition of civic courage and human dignity - a poet and intellectual who wanted, and strove for, a better future for his country."

"Despite all he suffered, (he) continued to espouse the politics of peace," the U.N. high commissioner for human rights said. "He was and will continue to be an inspiration and an example for all human rights defenders."

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12:30 a.m.

Germany's foreign minister is urging the Chinese government to let Liu Xiaobo's wife and brother leave the country following the death of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Berlin had urged Beijing in recent days to let Liu leave China for treatment abroad, possibly in Germany. Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Thursday he "deeply regrets" that China didn't let Liu and his wife, Liu Xia, travel to Germany.

He urged China to lift restrictions on Liu Xia's movements and communications and added, "She and her brother, Liu Hui, should immediately be allowed to leave for Germany or another country of their choice if they wish to."

Gabriel also urged China to look in a "credible and transparent way" into whether Liu Xiaobo's illness could and should have been detected earlier.

Liu was transferred to a hospital after being diagnosed with advanced liver cancer in prison in May but remained under police custody.

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12:15 a.m.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has expressed condolences over Liu Xiaobo's death, saying she had the "highest esteem for this human rights warrior."

Tsai, who is loathed by Beijing for her refusal to endorse its view that Taiwan is Chinese territory, wrote on her Facebook page that Liu's passing would be marked by all those around the world concerned with Chinese human rights.

She urged China to grant its citizens democratic rights and freedoms, saying, "We hope the mainland Chinese authorities will display the self-confidence to grant the people of mainland China the natural right of democracy and freedom and open up new prospects for relations" between China and Taiwan.

China's government made no immediate official comment on Liu's passing, although state broadcaster CCTV issued a brief statement on its English-language website.

Reporting his death, CCTV said Liu had been "jailed for engaging in activities designed to overthrow the Chinese government."

"Liu was sentenced to 11 years in jail on December 25, 2009, after a local court in Beijing convicted him of agitation aimed at subverting the government," it said.

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11:50 p.m.

The United States is calling on China's government to release the wife of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo from house arrest following his death.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said China should free Liu Xia and let her leave China as she wishes. He sent condolences over Liu's death to her and other loved ones.

Tillerson said the world mourns Liu's "tragic passing." He said Liu, China's most prominent political prisoner, dedicated his life to improving China and humankind and to pursuing justice and liberty.

Tillerson said Liu "embodied the human spirit that the Nobel Prize rewards" by fighting for freedom, equality and constitutional rule in China.

The U.S. had urged China in recent days to let Liu seek medical care at a location of his choice. China did not grant that request.

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11:45 p.m.

Norway's Nobel Committee has mourned the death of Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo and leveled harsh criticism at the "free world" for its "hesitant, belated reactions" to his serious illness and imprisonment.

The organization's chairwoman, Berit Reiss-Andersen, says the Chinese government "bears a heavy responsibility for his premature death."

Liu, who died Thursday, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 but was unable to attend the award ceremony because he had been sentenced to prison by Chinese officials for allegedly inciting subversion.

Reiss-Andersen said in a statement that in the committee's view, "he had not committed any criminal act ... his trial and imprisonment were unjust."

She said, "It is a sad and disturbing fact that the representatives of the free world, who themselves hold democracy and human rights in high regard, are less willing to stand up for those rights for the benefit of others."

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11:40 p.m.

Two Chinese doctors who led the treatment of Liu Xiaobo's advanced liver cancer say he was accompanied by his family when he died.

The doctors, speaking at a briefing Thursday in the northeastern city of Shenyang where the hospital is located, said Liu died at 5:35 p.m.

Tumor expert Teng Yue'e, who was introduced as Liu's main physician, said Liu's wife, two brothers and other family members were by his side when he died.

Teng said Liu died peacefully.

The doctor's account could not be independently verified. Liu's wife and other family members have been closely guarded by Chinese authorities and unreachable by friends and the media.

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11:30 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is paying tribute to Liu Xiaobo as a "courageous fighter for civil rights and freedom of opinion."

Liu, who was serving an 11-year prison sentence on subversion charges, died Thursday night in the Chinese city of Shenyang following a battle with liver cancer.

A German doctor and an American colleague visited Liu at a hospital last weekend, and the German government urged China on Wednesday to allow the Nobel Peace Prize laureate to leave the country for treatment abroad.

Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert quoted the German leader in a tweet as saying, "I mourn Liu Xiaobo, the courageous fighter for civil rights and freedom of opinion." She offered "deep condolences to his family."

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier also offered his condolences. He said Liu "only wanted the best for his country and will not be forgotten."

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11:00 p.m.

Prominent pro-democracy activists and other supporters have gathered outside the Chinese central government's representative office in Hong Kong to mourn the death of the country's most prominent political prisoner, Liu Xiaobo, and call for his wife Liu Xia to be freed from house arrest.

Pictures of Liu Xiaobo and placards reading "Free Liu Xia" were placed on a makeshift altar as mourners chanted slogans and signed a condolence book.

Unlike on the Chinese mainland, where the entirely state-controlled media were forbidden to mention his name, Liu became a prominent figure within the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong following his imprisonment in 2009 and award of the Nobel Peace Prize the following year.

Liu's face was emblazoned on countless signs during Hong Kong's annual pro-democracy rally and march on Saturday, underscoring how he had become a unifying figure among the opposition in Hong Kong that has been criticized relentlessly by the territory's leaders.

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10:30 p.m.

Human rights advocates and pro-democracy activists have expressed deep sorrow over the death of imprisoned Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo and called for his wife, Liu Xia, to be permitted to leave the country.

Wang Dan, a prominent leader of the 1989 pro-democracy protest movement on Beijing's Tiananmen Square, tweeted that governments and people worldwide must press for Liu Xia to be allowed to leave China, where she has been held under extralegal house arrest.

Wang wrote, "Xiaobo, my beloved teacher, my dear brother, you accepted too much hardship, rest easy."

In Hong Kong, prominent democracy activist Joshua Wong tweeted, "We will strive to carry forward his legacy to fight for democracy in HK and China."

Internationally acclaimed artist and activist Ai Weiwei tweeted: "Rest in peace. We are here, Xiaobo is here with us."

Fellow Beijing activist Hu Jia tweeted regrets that "we were not able to obtain your freedom during your life."

"The world grieves for you. Your unfulfilled wish is our mission," Hu wrote.

John Kamm, founder of the Dui Hua Foundation in San Francisco who has advised U.S. administrations on Chinese human rights issues, wrote that Liu's demise "is a waystation on the road to freedom of the Chinese people."

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