Activist Chen says American officials abandoned him
Human rights activist Chen Guangcheng, holed up at the US embassy for a week after escaping from house arrest, says that he believes he has been abandoned by American officials and that he fears for his life and the lives of his family if he stays in China.
I wrote about the confused situation for FrontPage.com:
The deal would have seen Chen released to a local hospital for treatment of his leg, injured in his daring escape from house arrest. The Chinese would have then allowed him to reunite with his family and move to a university town where he could continue his legal studies. The Chinese also promised that he would face no more legal issues and that the oppressive authorities in his hometown would be punished for their extra-legal detention of the activist.
From his hospital bed, Chen reached out to several news services, saying he had changed his mind and now wanted to leave China, a request he did not make while sheltered by the embassy because he was unaware that he and his family were in danger. He also claimed that an American official had told him that he had been advised by a Chinese government official that if he didn't leave the embassy, they would beat his wife to death. The State Department strongly denies that charge, saying no American official told Mr. Chen anything except that if he didn't leave the embassy, his wife would be sent home from Beijing.
The confusion surrounding the deal has the potential to upend the economic and security talks between the two countries that begin on Thursday. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are in Beijing for bi-lateral talks that will touch on security issues like Iran and North Korea as well as economic matters like China's currency policies and its huge trade surplus with the US.
US officials were kicked out of the hospital shortly after he arrived, replaced by Chinese police. They limited access to Chen's friends and, after talking to his wife for the first time since his escape, he discovered how menacing the authorities had become.
This has caused his about face where he is now asking for US help in leaving the country. It is doubtful we will assist him, given how mad the Chinese are at us already.