Blind Chinese rights activist Chen Guangcheng managed to slip away from house arrest at his closely-guarded home and travel to the US embassy in Beijing, where he is now safe.
A US-based rights group confirmed on Saturday that Chinese legal rights activist Chen Guangcheng, who managed to slip away from house arrest at his closely-guarded home, has in fact sought refuge at the US embassy in Beijing.
ChinaAid said Chen was under US protection and that high-level talks between Beijing and Washington were taking place. Both countries denied comment.
Chen had been under house arrest since he was released from a four-year jail sentence in September 2010. Despite the heavy presence of guards outside his home, Chen, who has been blind since childhood, managed to escape with the help of friends.
Chen gained notoriety in 2005 when he protested forced sterilizations and late-term abortions, which are carried out in the name of China's "one-child" policy. The activist's efforts landed him in jail.
Since his release, Chen and his family have reportedly suffered beatings at the hands of his guards.
In a video he left behind on the day of his escape, he said, "Even though I am now free, I am still concerned because my family - my mother, my wife, my child are still in their hands. They have hurt them for a long time, and they could enact crazed revenge on them because of my departure. This revenge could be completely unrestrained."
Supporters who helped Chen escape spoke out for the first time on Friday, saying they had helped Chen leave his home in Dongshigu, Shandong province, southeast of Beijing, on Sunday.
"His mental state is pretty good," said He Peirong, a leading campaigner for Chen's freedom, who also claimed she picked him up on Sunday and drove him to a "relatively safe place."
Local authorities in Shandong province were reportedly angered than Chen had eluded them and conducted a thorough search of his home town Dongshigu. Members of Chen's family, including his father and brother, were also beaten during the search, said He.
sb/mz (AFP, AP, Reuters)