Chinese Activist Says He’s at Beijing Airport

Posted May 19th, 2012 at 3:05 am (UTC-5)
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Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng says he has left a hospital and is at Beijing's international airport. He said Saturday he believes he will be flying to the U.S., but he's not sure.

The blind activist said his wife and two children are with him, but the three do not yet have passports.

Chen said earlier in the week that he and his family had filled out passport and visa applications and had taken passport photographs. New York University has offered Chen a fellowship.

Hospital staff accompanied Chen to the airport.

Chen fled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing last month after escaping repressive house arrest in Shangdong province. He left the embassy and entered a hospital for treatment, after agreeing to a deal reached by U.S. and Chinese authorities that would allow him to stay in a “safe” place in China and study law.

But he changed his mind hours after leaving U.S. protection, saying his family had been threatened.

Chen is a self-taught lawyer and human rights activist who has been blind since childhood. He was given a four-year prison sentence in 2006 for exposing abuses under China's forced abortion policy aimed at population control. He was then subjected to an abusive house arrest after his release from prison in 2010.