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China's ailing Nobel laureate in 'critical condition'

[BEIJING] China's cancer-stricken Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo is in a critical condition, the hospital treating him said Monday, raising fears about his life a day after Western doctors said there was time to take him abroad.

The First Hospital of China Medical University in the northeastern city of Shenyang said Mr Liu's tumour has grown and his liver is bleeding.

The hospital said in a statement on its website that it is preparing for the possibility of taking the 61-year-old democracy advocate into emergency care if necessary, adding that "Liu's family members have been informed of the above circumstances".

China has come under international pressure to let its most prominent dissident go abroad, but Chinese doctors said over the weekend that Mr Liu was too sick to travel.

But two foreign physicians, American oncology expert Joseph Herman from the University of Texas' MD Anderson Cancer Center and German doctor Markus Buchler of Heidelberg University, visited Mr Liu on Saturday and said he could still leave the country.

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Beijing has come under fire from human rights groups over its treatment of Mr Liu and for waiting until he was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer in late May to release him from prison on medical parole.

Mr 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.


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