Friends of Chinas most famous political prisoner Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo on Thursday said they feared he was entering his final hours as the White House renewed its call for the dissidents release, the media reported.
"Liu Xiaobo is on his deathbed," said writer and activist Wen Kejian, who is among those who have been blocked by authorities from visiting his dying friend.
"Although we know the patient and his family are suffering, we are praying that Xiaobo can hold on for a few more days," the Guardian quoted Wen as saying.
The hospital where Liu is being treated in north-east China issued a bleak update on the condition of the 61-year-old dissident.
In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, it said Liu, who was serving an 11-year prison sentence when he was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer in May, was "close to death".
His kidneys and liver were shutting down and he was suffering from respiratory failure, the hospital claimed.
Liu, who is reportedly being held under guard, has asked to be flown out of China for treatment in either Germany or the US. However, Beijing has refused to allow his exit,
Diplomatic experts told the Guardian they suspected Beijing was deliberately stalling attempts to transfer Liu overseas until it was no longer safe for medics to move him.