Anthony Kuhn

"Liu Xia is free."

A Chinese official made this assertion to allay concerns that the widow of prominent Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who died July 13, remains under house arrest — as she has been for most of the time since her husband was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

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Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo has died of liver cancer. He was 61. He died on medical parole while serving an 11-year prison sentence for subversion. NPR's Anthony Kuhn has more from Beijing.

Prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo, the only Chinese citizen to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize while still residing in China, has died at age 61. Liu died Thursday while on medical parole in northeastern China's Shenyang city, where he was being treated for liver cancer. He was serving an 11-year prison sentence for trying to overthrow the government.

With China's most famous living dissident, Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, on the verge of death, his supporters continue to call for him to be allowed to leave the country — to either get medical treatment or at least die a free man.

In decades past, China sometimes released high-profile dissidents, who went overseas. But the days when China was willing to cut a deal with the U.S. or other countries and send a dissident into exile are long gone.

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