Bobby Yip | Reuters

Pro-democracy activists mourn the death of Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, outside China’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong, China July 13, 2017.

While Liu was released on medical parole in June, he was still under government supervision. Chinese leadership also initially resisted pressure to allow foreign doctors to attend to Liu, though they eventually acquiesced. Those professionals said the activist was well enough to travel for treatment.

Beijing must bear “heavy responsibility for his premature death” for not allowing Liu to be medically evacuated, Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said in a statement.

“While the whole world watched, China chose instead to maintain the isolation of its prisoner,” she said.

Following Liu’s death, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a statement praising the activist as someone who “embodied the human spirit that the Nobel Prize rewards.”

“Mr. Liu dedicated his life to the betterment of his country and humankind, and to the pursuit of justice and liberty,” Tillerson said.

Foreign policy hawk Sen. John McCain said Liu’s death was an “egregious” and “barbaric” violation of the activist’s human rights.

“Unfortunately, and as Dr. Liu would have wanted everyone to remember today, this is only the latest example of Communist China’s assault on human rights, democracy, and freedom,” McCain said.

Hours after Trump’s press conference, the White House released a statement that said the president was “deeply saddened to learn of” Liu’s death and offered his condolences.

— Reuters contributed to this report.

Update: This story has been updated to include the White House’s statement.

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