Blind Chinese Activist’s Brother Flees Guarded Home

Posted May 24th, 2012 at 1:40 pm (UTC-5)
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The brother of blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng is reported to have fled his tightly guarded village in northeast China to seek legal advice on how to protect his son from what he says are retaliatory criminal charges.

Media reports say Chen Guangfu met with a lawyer in Beijing Thursday after sneaking out of his home in Shandong province, in what is the second dramatic escape from the police guarding his family in less than a month.

The U.S. State Department said that American embassy officials were in touch with Chen Guangfu before he left his home province, but have not had contact with him since his arrival in Beijing.

His brother, Chen Guangcheng, fled house arrest in April, seeking protection at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. The situation created a diplomatic standoff between the U.S. and China that was resolved when Beijing allowed him to fly to the U.S. to study.

Chen's nephew, Chen Kegui, was arrested and charged with attempted murder following a clash last month with officials who burst into his home after discovering his uncle had escaped.

A lawyer who met with his father on Thursday in Beijing says he is still trying to convince officials to let him represent Chen Kegui, who has been appointed two government-appointed lawyers.

His family says the attempted murder charge is retaliation by local officials who were humiliated following Chen Guangcheng's escape.

Chen Guangcheng spent six days in U.S. diplomatic protection after escaping his home in Dongshigu village, where had been held for nearly two years under reportedly abusive conditions.

The self-taught lawyer and human rights activist left the embassy after agreeing to a deal reached by U.S. and Chinese authorities that would allow him to stay in a “safe” place in China. But he changed his mind after leaving U.S. protection, saying he did not feel safe and asking to go to the United States.

The blind activist and his wife and children arrived Saturday in the U.S., where he plans to study law at New York University.

The 40-year-old Chen was given a four-year prison sentence in 2006 for exposing abuses under China's forced abortion policy aimed at population control. After his release from prison in 2010, he was put under house arrest.