Doc­tors say No­bel lau­re­ate can travel

U.S., Ger­man ex­perts con­tra­dict China

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NEWS - GERRY SHIH In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Gil­lian Wong of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

BEI­JING — Two for­eign spe­cial­ists who vis­ited Liu Xiaobo said Sun­day that the can­cer-stricken No­bel Peace Prize lau­re­ate can safely travel abroad for treat­ment.

The an­nounce­ment con­tra­dicts state­ments by Chi­nese ex­perts who say a med­i­cal evac­u­a­tion would be un­safe for China’s best-known po­lit­i­cal pris­oner.

The Ger­man and Amer­i­can doc­tors, who saw Liu on Satur­day, is­sued a joint state­ment say­ing that their home in­sti­tu­tions — the Uni­ver­sity of Hei­del­berg and the MD An­der­son Can­cer Cen­ter in Hous­ton — have agreed to ac­cept Liu, but that any evac­u­a­tion would have to take place “as quickly as pos­si­ble.”

Liu was di­ag­nosed in May with late-stage liver can­cer while serv­ing an 11-year sen­tence for in­cit­ing sub­ver­sion by ad­vo­cat­ing sweep­ing po­lit­i­cal changes that would end China’s one-party rule. He was awarded the No­bel Peace Prize in 2010, the year af­ter he was con­victed and jailed by a Chi­nese court.

For weeks, fam­ily and sup­port­ers have asked for the 61-year-old ac­tivist to be fully re­leased and al­lowed to re­ceive treat­ment abroad, ar­gu­ing that au­thor­i­ties are keep­ing him in China only out of po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions.

Mean­while, the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has main­tained that Liu is re­ceiv­ing the best treat­ment pos­si­ble at the First Hos­pi­tal of China Med­i­cal Uni­ver­sity in the north­ern city of Shenyang. Chi­nese state me­dia have la­beled Liu a con­victed crim­i­nal, and the gov­ern­ment has warned other coun­tries to stay out of China’s in­ter­nal af­fairs.

Af­ter in­ter­na­tional crit­i­cism, China al­lowed the two for­eign ex­perts — Dr. Markus Buch­ler from Hei­del­berg, Germany and Dr. Joseph Her­man of the Uni­ver­sity of Texas hos­pi­tal — to visit Liu.

Buch­ler and Her­man said in their state­ment Sun­day that they “ac­knowl­edged” the qual­ity of care Liu has re­ceived in Shenyang. But they said that Liu ex­pressed a de­sire to leave China and that they judged that he “can be safely trans­ported with ap­pro­pri­ate med­i­cal evac­u­a­tion care and sup­port.”

Hours af­ter the for­eign doc­tors an­nounced their opin­ion, Jared Genser, a Wash­ing­ton-based lawyer who rep­re­sents Liu in­ter­na­tion­ally, said any de­ci­sion by Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties to still keep Liu would amount to “in­ten­tion­ally has­ten­ing his death” and “re­fus­ing to honor the wishes of a dy­ing man to re­ceive the treat­ment he de­sires.”

“The moment that Liu Xiaobo and [wife] Liu Xia were to be al­lowed by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment to travel, we have a mede­vac ready to take them abroad,” Genser said in an email.

Hu Jia, a Chi­nese dis­si­dent and fam­ily friend, said Bei­jing is afraid of let­ting its most po­tent op­po­si­tion sym­bol go abroad as long as he is able to speak to the me­dia.

“As long as he can still talk, the global me­dia will re­port and trans­mit his mes­sage to the world,” Hu said. “Ev­ery sound he ut­ters will be recorded as a force for chang­ing China.”

Shang Bao­jun, a for­mer lawyer for Liu who re­mains close to the fam­ily, told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Satur­day that Liu was co­her­ent enough dur­ing the visit with the for­eign doc­tors to say that he wanted to go abroad for treat­ment, prefer­ably to Germany, al­though the U.S. would also be fine. At times, Liu was lu­cid enough to com­mu­ni­cate in English, Shang said.

The hos­pi­tal it­self re­leased a brief on­line state­ment late Satur­day that quoted an un­named Chi­nese ex­pert as say­ing it would be un­safe for Liu to travel abroad. The hos­pi­tal has pre­vi­ously said Liu’s liver func­tion is de­te­ri­o­rat­ing and that blood clots are form­ing in his left leg and could po­ten­tially travel to the brain or the lungs, lead­ing to death.

Phone calls to the hos­pi­tal’s ad­min­is­tra­tion de­part­ment and pub­lic­ity of­fice were not an­swered Sun­day.

The U.S. urged China to al­low Liu to travel.

“We con­tinue to call on the Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties to grant Mr. Liu full pa­role and to re­lease his wife, Liu Xia, from house ar­rest, and to al­low them to travel to seek spe­cial­ized care that would ease his suf­fer­ing in his fi­nal days,” said Mary Beth Pol­ley, the spokesman for the U.S. Em­bassy in Bei­jing.

Hu agreed that Liu Xiaobo was al­most cer­tain to die soon re­gard­less of where he was.

“Let­ting him fly away from his hell would be a mas­sive psy­cho­log­i­cal boost, stronger than any medicine you can give him,” Hu said. “It will im­prove his fi­nal days, so he will die with dig­nity — and in the free world.”

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