By Stephanie Nebehay and Christian Shepherd
GENEVA/BEIJING (Reuters) – United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has met Chinese officials regarding Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, a spokeswomen said on Tuesday, as international concern grows over his condition.
Liu, 61, was jailed for 11 years in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power” after he helped write a petition known as “Charter 08” calling for sweeping political reforms.
He was recently moved from jail to a hospital to be treated for late stage liver cancer.
“High Commissioner (Zeid) sent a letter to the government of China requesting a meeting to discuss the situation of Liu Xiaobo and of his wife Lu Xia and her access to him,” U.N. human rights spokeswoman Liz Throssell told a Geneva news briefing.
“That meeting took place on Friday, the 30th of June, and we’re hoping to continue this dialogue over the coming days and weeks,” she said.
Throssell declined to comment on whether the United Nations was seeking for Liu to be treated abroad.
A growing number of Western politicians and international rights activists have expressed concern about the quality of Liu’s treatment and have said he should be given the choice to leave China if that was the best option.
The concern over Liu’s fate, and that of his wife Liu Xia, who has been under effective house arrest since her husband won the peace prize in 2010, comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to arrive in Germany on Tuesday for a G20 summit.
China is hoping to use the G20 to show global leadership on issues ranging from free trade to climate change, but pressure to allow Liu to leave for treatment could overshadow Xi’s appearance.
A family member of Liu’s said on Saturday his “time is limited” due to a fluid build up around his stomach caused by liver scarring.
Chinese authorities on Friday told diplomats from Germany, the United States and the European Union that Liu could not be moved abroad due to his condition.
However, a source close to the family told Reuters on Monday that Liu was still well enough to travel.
The source cited a recently taken photo of Liu being fed by his wife, as well as a video of doctors discussing Liu’s condition with his family last Wednesday as evidence that he was not in a critical condition.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in GENEVA; Christian Shepherd and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Louise Ireland and Tony Munroe)