Chinese Activist Says He’s Headed to New York

Posted May 19th, 2012 at 6:05 am (UTC-5)
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Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng told VOA Saturday he and his family have obtained passports and are waiting for their flight to the U.S. at Beijing international airport.

The blind activist says his flight was slightly delayed, but he expects to leave soon for New York, where New York University has offered him a fellowship.

Earlier Saturday, Chen had said he was not sure if or when he and his wife, plus their two children, would be flying to the U.S., because they did not have passports.

Chen fled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing last month after escaping 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.