The family of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo says that he is well enough to travel abroad, according to a Hong Kong NGO. The statement directly contradicts Chinese authorities’ previous claims that Liu is too sick to travel.

The Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights & Democracy cited an unnamed family member as saying that Liu is regaining his physical abilities and that he is able to walk.

Hong Kong activist Lee Cheuk-yan with a photo of Liu Xiaobo during a protest on Friday. Photo: Dan Garrett.

“Liu Xiaobo can absolutely fly on a plane next week,” the NGO wrote. It said that a family member told them on Sunday that Liu’s tumour was about 10 by 11 centimetres in size, and that it has spread to the bone in several places.

Chinese authorities have not handled visa procedures for Liu to leave the country, and did not give them a copy of Liu’s latest CT scan, the family member said.

An activist holds a photo of Liu Xia during a protest on Friday. Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

Chinese authorities previously told US, German and EU diplomats that Liu cannot be moved to receive medical treatment elsewhere due to his illness and that his family agreed he should be treated at his current location, Reuters cited an unnamed source briefed on the meeting as saying.

But a friend of the family in Germany last week tweeted a handwritten note from Liu Xia saying that her husband has agreed to go abroad with her and her brother.

Demosisto and LSD rallying for Liu’s release last week. Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

Liu is a poet and human rights activist who was detained in 2008 and sentenced to 11 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power.” The law is often used by the Chinese authorities to silence dissidents.

Liu was arrested after writing Charter ’08, a manifesto calling for democratic reforms in China, and awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 2010 for his campaign for democracy and human rights.

See also: How Chinese intellectual Liu Xiaobo spoke up for change, only to be jailed by Beijing

Hongkongers rallied for Liu’s full release last week and over the weekend, as President Xi Jinping visited the city for Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s inauguration and celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the handover of sovereignty to China.

Activists hold a banner calling for Liu Xiaobo’s release during the July 1 protest. Photo: Dan Garrett.

Previously, Reuters cited family members as saying that Liu’s “time is limited” due to fluid build-up around his stomach caused by liver scarring.

The Shenyang legal bureau said last week that it has arranged for eight “well-known oncologists” to treat Liu, and that several doctors are also treating him with Chinese medicine upon the request of his family.

Chinese human rights activist and writer Zeng Jinyan tweeted on Friday a photo appearing to show a diminished Liu in the hospital with his wife, the poet Liu Xia.

Following news that Liu was moved from prison on medical parole, two videos of Liu and his family have surfaced.

The second video, which began circulating online this weekend, showed doctors discussing Liu’s treatment and his family members bowing and thanking doctors after a meeting.

Hu Jia, a Chinese dissident who is familiar with the situation, told Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK that the videos were purposely released by authorities to show that they are doing everything they can to treat Liu.

Meanwhile, an online petition to free Liu has gained over a thousand signatures.

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.