BEIGING - China’s cancer-stricken Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo suffered respiratory failure as his condition worsened on Wednesday, his hospital said, as Germany offered to host him and rights groups decried the lack of independent information.

The First Hospital of China Medical University in the northeastern city of Shenyang said Liu’s family declined to have him put on artificial ventilation, which was necessary “to maintain life”. “The hospital has explained the necessity of tracheal intubation to the patient’s family, the family refused the tracheal intubation,” the hospital said on its website.

The hospital said the 61-year-old democracy advocate’s liver function had deteriorated despite three days of anti-infection and blood treatment. Liu, who has been held since 2008 for “subversion”, risks becoming the first Nobel Peace Prize laureate to die in custody since German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who passed away in a hospital under the Nazis in 1938.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Berlin was “very concerned” about Liu’s health and that it “stands ready to host and medically” treat him. The Chinese government has rebuffed international appeals to let Liu seek treatment abroad, saying he is getting the best possible care from top domestic doctors.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang repeated his standard answer earlier on Wednesday that other countries should respect the country’s judicial sovereignty and “not interfere in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of an individual case”.