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Blind activist's brother also slips house arrest in China

Chen Guangcheng is now in the US after his dramatic escape and the subsequent diplomatic spat. But his elder brother is now on the run in the capital Beijing - seeking to help his imprisoned son.

The brother of blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng has himself slipped house arrest, fleeing his village in northeastern China and making it to the capital Beijing.

Chen Guangfu went to the capital to seek legal help concerning the fate of his adult son, who is charged with attempted murder for attacking a local official. Chen says his son was acting in self-defense after the official broke into his home.

Lawyers for Chen Guangfu said he had arrived in Beijing on Wednesday evening, but added they could not reveal his precise whereabouts.

Chen Guangcheng, blind Chinese human rights activist and his wife Yuan Weijing smile as they arrive at a New York University housing

Younger brother Chen Guangcheng is in the US with his wife

"He escaped from Dongshigu village in the middle of the night," lawyer Ding Xikui told the AFP news agency in a phone interview, saying Chen had effectively been under house arrest there.

"There were people monitoring him and controlling his movements. They were not allowing him to leave the village, he had been confined to the village," he said.

Chen Guangfu arrived in Beijing just two weeks after authorities announced they would charge his son, Chen Kegui, with attempted murder. The 32-year-old had been appointed a pair of state lawyers, but the Chen family's preferred lawyers say they have not been allowed to meet with him.

"By refusing us the right to visit him, they are violating the law," Ding said. "There is no legal basis for this refusal."

Response to uncle's escape?

Chen Kegui's imprisonment revolves around an incident where he apparently used knives against local officials who had broken into his house on April 27, shortly after his uncle had appeared at the US embassy.

Chen Guangfu's defiance of house arrest is reminiscent of his blind brother Chen Guangcheng's dramatic escape, thought to have taken place on April 22. Chen subsequently he took shelter in the US embassy - straining ties between Washington and Beijing.

Chen Guangcheng was ultimately granted a passport and permission to go to the US, arriving there last week. The activist had reported on forced abortions and sterilizations under China's "one-child" policy, had served four years in prison, and was released to semi-official house arrest in 2010.

msh/pfd (AFP, dpa, Reuters)