Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese writer, activist, and the recipient of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, has been granted parole more than seven years into an 11-year prison sentence, his lawyers announced Monday. While Liu was expected to remain in jail until 2020, his lawyers cited a late-stage cancer diagnosis as the reason for his early release. Liu was reportedly diagnosed last month with terminal liver cancer and is currently undergoing medical treatment.
At 61 years old, Liu is perhaps known best for his role in the 1989 student-led protests in Tiananmen Square, in which hundreds of demonstrators were killed while demanding democratic reform in China. In addition to delivering passionate speeches, Liu and his colleagues organized a three-day hunger strike and helped to negotiate the peaceful withdraw of thousands of student protesters, in turn saving countless lives. Shortly after, Liu was arrested for his involvement and forced to serve 21 months in jail. He was later forbidden from teaching at state institutions and his publications were banned throughout China.
In 1996, Liu was sentenced to three years in a labor camp for criticizing China’s one-party Communist system. It was during this time that he married his wife, Liu Xia, who was placed on house arrest in 2010 after informing Liu of his Nobel Prize win. In 2008, Liu was instrumental in writing Charter 08, a manifesto calling for greater human rights and economic liberalism in China that has since garnered thousands of signatures. A mere hours before the manifesto was published online, Liu was arrested by Chinese authorities for “subversion”—one of the many offenses that the manifesto seeks to abolish. He has been imprisoned ever since.