SAN FRANCISCO (June 26, 2017) — According to an announcement posted on the website of the Liaoning Province Prison Administration Bureau, Liu Xiaobo, sentenced to 11 years in prison for inciting subversion in 2009, was recently granted medical parole “in accordance with the law.” No date was given for the decision.

The announcement confirmed reports that Liu is suffering from liver cancer and has been moved to the Number One Hospital of the China Medical University. It claims that a nationally recognized team of eight specialists is implementing a treatment plan.

Under Chinese law, medical parole is granted for an initial period of six months. After six months, the condition of the individual granted medical parole is assessed. The period of medical parole can be extended, or the parolee can be ordered back to prison to serve the remainder of his or her sentence.

According to regulations on handling prisoners granted medical parole issued in 1995, during the period of medical parole the parolee is supervised by local public security bureaus. It is likely that Liu Xiaobo is being supervised by armed guards.

It is not correct to say that the prisoner granted medical parole is “free,” nor is it correct to say that the prisoner has been “released.” The prisoner is still serving his/or her sentence, albeit in a location other than the prison itself. Monthly family visits are allowed. Time spent under medical parole counts against the sentence.

“In the past, prisoners granted medical parole have been allowed to go abroad for medical treatment,” noted Dui Hua executive director John Kamm. “Common in the early years of the last decade, a prisoner granted medical parole has rarely been allowed to go abroad for medical treatment in recent years. Dui Hua calls on the prison authorities to allow Liu Xiaobo and his wife to go abroad for medical treatment if they so desire.”