Liu Xiaobo: China's most prominent dissident dies

American soldier gets ready for NATO's Saber Guardian exercises smearing his face with camouflage paint near Gyor 120 kilometers west of Budapest Hungary. The NATO exercises officially launched on Tuesday Jul

"We reiterate the European Union's call for all prisoners of conscience in China to be released", they said, calling on the Chinese authorities to allow Xiaobo's family to bury him according to their wishes.

"Today, I join those in China and around the world in mourning the tragic passing of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died while serving a lengthy prison sentence in China for promoting peaceful democratic reform", Tillerson said in a statement.

Xiaobo, known for his pro-democracy activism, was jailed eight years ago for co-writing the Charter 08, which termed the Communist Party of China as "totalitarian", along with condemning the one-party political system in China. As many as 10,000 people were arrested during and after the protests.

Liu's wife, artist Liu Xia, has been under strict house arrest since her husband was honored with the Nobel Prize in 2010, The New York Times reported.

Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Thorbjoern Jagland looks down at the Nobel certificate and medal on the empty chair where Nobel Peace Prize victor jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo would have sat during the ceremony at Oslo City Hall on December 10, 2010. When the troops opened fire on protesters on the night of June 3-4, 1989, he could have fled but stayed to negotiate with the Army and arrange a safe exit for students from the center of Tiananmen Square.

" 'Liu Xiaobo is immortal, no matter whether he is alive or dead, ' said Hu Ping, a friend of nearly three decades who edits a pro-democracy journal called the Beijing Spring".

In response to calls to allow Liu to leave China, the foreign ministry repeatedly said other countries should not interfere in China's internal affairs, using the same line on Thursday before his death was announced.

Mr Liu was found guilty of trying to overthrow the state. After the brutal crackdown on demonstrators, a friend drove Liu to the front gate of the Australian Embassy and said if he entered, he could seek asylum. Liu Xia herself spent years under virtual house arrest though she was never formally accused of any crime.

"The Chinese government bears a heavy responsibility for his premature death". "Liu's ideas and his dreams will persist, spread, and will, one day, come to fruition". Carl von Ossietzky, who won the prize in 1935 for opposing Nazism, was the first laureate to die in German state custody in 1938. "I feel that, in a dictatorship, if you want to be a person with dignity, if you want to be an honest person, you must fight for human rights and fight for freedom of speech", Liu said in a 2007 interview.

Worldwide human rights groups, Western governments and local activists had urged authorities to free Liu and grant his final wish to be treated overseas. There is so much we can learn from Liu's courage, decency and vision, and some time I look forward to placing flowers at the memorial to him at Tiananmen Square.

"We appeal to the Chinese authorities to allow his wife, Ms Liu Xia and his family to bury Liu Xiaobo at a place and in a manner of their choosing, and to allow them to grieve in peace", Juncker and Tusk said.

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