Human rights advocates, pro-democracy activists and government leaders around the globe expressed sorrow over the death of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo and urged the Chinese government to let his wife do something he wasn't allowed to: leave the country.
Wang Dan, a prominent leader of the 1989 pro-democracy protest movement on Beijing's Tiananmen Square, tweeted that governments worldwide must press for Liu Xia to be allowed to leave China, where she has been held under extralegal house arrest.
Wang wrote, "Xiaobo, my beloved teacher, my dear brother, you accepted too much hardship, rest easy."
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged China to let Liu Xia leave. He said her husband dedicated his life to improving China and humankind and to pursuing justice and liberty.
United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein also urged Chinese officials to "guarantee Liu Xia's freedom of movement" and expressed hope that she would be allowed to grieve for her husband as she wished.
Zeid called Liu Xiaobo the "definition of civic courage and human dignity" and said he embodied "the democratic, nonviolent ideals he so ardently advocated."
Liu, China's most prominent political prisoner, died Thursday at a hospital at the age of 61, officials said. He had been diagnosed with advanced liver cancer in prison and remained under police custody while being treated.
He was imprisoned for co-writing a document circulated in 2008 that called for more freedom of expression, human rights and an independent judiciary in China.
Suzanne Nossel, head of the U.S. arm of the international literary and human rights organization PEN International, faulted Chinese officials for not heeding calls to allow Liu to travel abroad for medical treatment.
"China's refusal to honor Liu Xiaobo's last wish to travel overseas for treatment and its decision to hold him incommunicado during his dying days are a cruel epitaph in the tale of a powerful regime's determination to crush a brave man who dared challenge a government that sustains its rule through suppression and fear," Nossel said.
Chinese authorities insisted Liu was receiving the best possible care.
U.S. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called the death "a tragedy and a deep affront to the basic notions of justice and human dignity."
John Kamm, founder of the Dui Hua Foundation in San Francisco who has advised U.S. administrations on Chinese human rights issues, wrote that Liu's demise "is a waystation on the road to freedom of the Chinese people."
In Hong Kong, prominent democracy activist Joshua Wong tweeted, "We will strive to carry forward his legacy to fight for democracy in HK and China."
Internationally acclaimed artist and activist Ai Weiwei tweeted: "Rest in peace. We are here, Xiaobo is here with us."
Fellow Beijing activist Hu Jia tweeted regrets that "we were not able to obtain your freedom during your life."
"The world grieves for you. Your unfulfilled wish is our mission," Hu wrote.