A Chinese hospital said Tuesday it was scrambling to save terminally-ill Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, while human rights groups decried his treatment by the authorities and the leak of a video showing him in his sickbed.

The health of the prominent 61-year-old democracy advocate has deteriorated since authorities revealed last month that he had been transferred from prison to a hospital due to late-stage liver cancer.

But Chinese officials have ignored calls by international human rights groups, Western governments and local activists to grant Liu's wish to be treated abroad, raising fears he will die without having tasted freedom.

A day after reporting that Liu was in a critical condition, the First Hospital of China Medical University in the northeastern city of Shenyang said on Tuesday that the patient was "still in active rescue".

Liu has an abdominal infection, organ dysfunction and he went into septic shock, the hospital said in a statement on its website. He is undergoing kidney dialysis, and is getting anti-infection and organ function support therapy.

The back-to-back pessimistic reports from the hospital came after foreign doctors who visited Liu over the weekend concluded that it was safe to transport him to another country, contradicting their Chinese counterparts.

- 'Grotesque propaganda' -

Human rights groups questioned the motives behind the leak of a video showing the US and German specialists by the bedside of a gaunt-looking Liu as they speak to his wife, Liu Xia, and the Chinese doctors.

German doctor Markus Buchler tells Liu Xia the Chinese physicians are "very committed" to her husband's treatment. Another clip shows him telling doctors in a conference room that he does not think physicians in Germany can do better, but he said he was willing to take him out of China.

The German embassy lashed out at what it called a breach of doctor-patient confidentiality, saying Monday it seems that "security organs are steering the process, not medical experts".

Human Rights Watch's China director Sophie Richardson called the leak "grotesque propaganda".

"It makes so painfully clear that China's interest is to try to put up the fiction that it has treated him well when in fact its conduct has been appallingly inhumane," she told AFP.

While it is good that the hospital has given health updates, "at the end of the day it's the Communist party that's making decisions about Liu Xiaobo's health, not the physicians," she said.

Asked about the German embassy's reaction to the leak, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters he was "not aware of relevant information mentioned in the statement".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman had said on Monday that she hoped for a "signal of humanity" from China.

The United States and European Union have urged China to grant Liu full parole and let him choose his treatment.

Geng reiterated that he hoped "relevant countries can respect the judicial sovereignty of China and not interfere in China's internal affairs under the pretext of an individual case".

If he dies, Liu would become the first Nobel Peace Prize laureate to die in custody since German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who passed away in a hospital while held by the Nazis in 1938.

- Medical evacuation ready -

Liu was arrested in 2008 after co-writing Charter 08, a bold petition that called for the protection of basic human rights and reform of China's one-party Communist system.

He was sentenced to 11 years in prison in December 2009 for "subversion". At the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo in 2010, he was represented by an empty chair.

Liu's US-based lawyer, Jared Genser, said late Monday that he has arranged for a medical evacuation with life support for him.

"By denying him treatments that would extend his life, the Chinese government is intentionally hastening his death," Genser said in a statement.

Amnesty International's China researcher Patrick Poon voiced fears that Liu will die in custody.

"There is little hope that the authorities will let him leave," Poon told AFP.

Hu Jia, a Beijing-based activist, said supporters should still fight to help Liu leave: "Even if he must die on the plane that has come to pick him up, then he would have still left his cage."