International Law

Escaped Chinese Dissident Lawyer Is Reportedly Under Protection of US Embassy in Beijing

A Chinese dissident lawyer who escaped from house arrest is reportedly in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing where he may be protected by United States diplomats.

The Washington Post and the New York Times have stories on Chen Guangcheng, a blind human rights lawyer known for his opposition to forced abortion and sterilization. Both stories cite reports that Chen is housed in the embassy, though they rely on different sources.

Chen has posted a video on YouTube calling for an investigation of his house arrest and protection for his family, the stories say. He was confined to his house after serving a 51 month prison term for “obstructing traffic.” In the video, he says his wife was kicked for hours by guards and his daughter followed as she walked to school.

According to another activist, Hu Jia, Chen managed to escape by climbing over a high wall. “His story is the Chinese version of the Shawshank Redemption,” Hu told the Post.

The embassy refused to confirm or deny the report. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to visit China next week for economic and political talks. “The escape would represent a significant public relations challenge to the Chinese government,” the Times says, “which has long sought to deny reports that local officials in Dongshigu village were keeping Mr. Chen and his wife locked in their home even though there are no legal charges against him.”

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