Chinese authorities eventually allowed doctors from Germany and the United States to treat him.
A day after Liu's death, attention turned to his widow's fate.
"Naturally we are anxious about Liu Xia right now, because she has been suffering from depression and heart disease in the years since Liu Xiaobo went to prison", Poon told RFA. It was that very struggle, from his hunger strike at Beijing's Tiananmen Square to his insistent calls to end to one-party rule, that also made him a marked man in China.
The circumstances recalled the situation in 2010 when Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while serving an 11-year sentence for "subversion" - online searches for his name and references to his award, including the empty chair that represented him at the Oslo ceremony, were blocked.
Responding to such calls early Friday, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang chastised foreign officials for "making improper comments on Liu Xiaobo's death of illness".
Liu's death led to global criticism of China's handling of the issue.
"He set a great example for intellectuals in China, and for next generation, that he sacrificed his life for human rights for freedom of speech in China". "Liu Xiaobo, and his wife Liu Xia, are the faces of liberty in China".
Liu was still three years from completing his prison term when he died.
Mr Liu died "peacefully" on Thursday afternoon, surrounded by his wife and other relatives, his main doctor Teng Yue'e said.
His compatriots still based in China, though unable to speak so freely, found creative ways to mourn Liu on the social media platform Wechat.
Switzerland has joined countries around the world in expressing its sadness about the death of the Chinese Nobel Prize victor and prominent democracy activist Liu Xiaobo. His love, courage and strength will never die'.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein also urged China to guarantee Liu Xia freedom of movement, and allow her to travel overseas should she want to.
"The blame for this should lie squarely on the Chinese government and for his death they alone should be held accountable", Smith said at a hearing Friday before a panel of human rights advocates.
The newspaper had tweeted a since-deleted message in Chinese on Sina Weibo - Twitter's equivalent in China - mocking the global reactions to Liu's death: "The person's gone but a blockbuster tear-jerker is just on - we'll sit back and enjoy the show".
Inevitably, some in the West will think that honoring Liu Xiaobo is an act of offense against China (or, more practically, a potential risk to relationships with the government).
In 2009, he wrote a manifesto, Charter 08, that called for political reform and criticised the government for failing to produce a democratic China.
"When I visited Xiaobo, she wouldn't get involved with our political discussions".
The Nobel-winning writer and human rights activist died of liver cancer Thursday evening while in custody at a hospital in Shenyang in northeastern China.
In 1996, the authorities granted him permission to marry Liu Xia, an artist and poet, whilst still in jail.
German Justice Minister Heiko Maas tweeted: "Liu Xiaobo is dead. It's a persecution, it's a violation of human rights", she said. That request was denied by Chinese National Security that said the care he was getting was adequate.