Chinese Activist Says He’s Headed to New York

Posted May 19th, 2012 at 5:20 am (UTC-5)
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Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng says he is out of the hospital and is at Beijing's international airport, waiting for a flight to New York, where New York University has offered him a fellowship.

Chen told VOA Saturday his flight has been slightly delayed, but he expects to leave late Saturday afternoon with his family. The blind activist says he has seen their passports.

Earlier Saturday, Chen 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.