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Chinese dissident and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo dies

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TOPSHOT - Protestors prepare to post postcards written and addressed to terminally-ill Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo (pictured on cards) outside the General Post Office in Hong Kong on July 5, 2017. The Chinese hospital caring for cancer-stricken Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo has decided to invite US, German and other foreign experts to treat him in China following international pressure to let him go abroad. / AFP PHOTO / Anthony WALLACE (Photo credit should read ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)

BEIJING (CNN) — Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning Chinese dissident, has died, local authorities said in a statement Thursday. He was 61.

Liu had been suffering from liver cancer and died of multiple organ failure.

In June, he was granted medical parole after being diagnosed with liver cancer in prison. The Beijing government refused to let him seek treatment overseas despite Liu’s wishes and international pressure. Chinese authorities eventually allowed doctors from Germany and the United States to treat him.

Liu spent more than a decade behind bars in China for his advocacy of democracy, including taking part in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

His most recent prison sentence stemmed from his co-authorship of Charter 08, a manifesto calling for political reform and human rights in China. Liu was convicted on Christmas Day in 2009 and received a surprisingly harsh 11-year prison term for “inciting subversion of state power.”

Human Rights Watch quickly condemned the Chinese government’s treatment of Liu, noting that the last Nobel Peace laureate who died in state custody was pacifist Carl von Ossietzky in Nazi Germany in 1938.

“The Chinese government’s arrogance, cruelty, and callousness are shocking — but Liu’s struggle for a rights-respecting, democratic China will live on,” Sophie Richardson, the China director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

Judicial authorities in Shenyang, where Liu was being treated, said he was given emergency treatment beginning Monday after his condition continued to deteriorate.