The police in China have kept Mr. Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, under house arrest and smothering surveillance, preventing her from speaking out about Mr. Liu’s belated treatment for cancer.
“Can’t operate, can’t do radiotherapy, can’t do chemotherapy,” Ms. Liu said in a brief video message to a friend when her husband’s fatal condition was announced. The message quickly spread online.
Mr. Liu’s illness elicited a deluge of sympathy from officials, friends, Chinese rights activists and international groups, who saw him as a fearless advocate of peaceful democratic change.
“The reaction to his illness shows how much he was respected,” said Cui Weiping, a former professor of literature in Beijing who knew Mr. Liu and now lives in Los Angeles. “People from all walks of life — friends, strangers, young people — have been outraged to hear that someone with terminal cancer was kept locked up till he died.”