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Confusion surrounds reasons behind blind Chinese activist's leaving refuge of US Embassy

Beijing, Thu, 03 May 2012 ANI

Beijing, May 3 (ANI): The stark contrast between the claims of blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng and American officials in the US Embassy has posed many questions as to which version of the story of his leaving the Embassy voluntarily might be true.

Chen, a blind human rights activist, claimed that a U.S. official told him that Chinese authorities had threatened to kill his wife if he did not leave the American Embassy where he had sought sanctuary.

However, the US State Department vehemently denied having ever discussed such a threat with him.

"At no time did any U.S. official speak to (Chen Guangcheng) about physical or legal threats to his wife and children. Nor did Chinese officials make any such threats to us," Fox News quoted Victoria Nuland, Spokeswoman for the US State Department, as saying.

The lawyer, who is one of the China's leading dissidents, claimed that the United States officials had agreed to a deal in keeping him and his family safe only to be 'abandoned' by them. He said he was forced to leave the embassy in Beijing only because of the threats to his wife and children.

According to a report in The Telegraph, Chen was escorted from the embassy by Kurt Campbell, the US Assistant Secretary of State, and taken to a local hospital where he was reunited with his wife, Yuan Weijing, his 11-year-old son Kerui, and his seven-year-old daughter Kesi. He was to receive treatment for an injury he sustained in his escape.

"Nobody from the embassy is here. I do not understand why. I came because of an agreement. I was worried about the safety of my family. A gang of them have taken over our house, sitting in our room and eating at our table, waving thick sticks around. They've turned our home into a prison, with seven cameras and electric fence all around," Chen was reported, as saying, from his hospital ward.

However, US officials denied Chen's claims and released a series of photographs as evidence, which showed Chen hugging Campbell and smiling as the men departed for the hospital.

Denying that the administration had passed on any threat of violence to the family, a senior U.S. official claimed that Chen was told if he stayed in the embassy indefinitely, his family would be returned to their home province. Nuland also claimed that Beijing had "indicated" the family could be returned.

Chen's escape from an illegal house arrest in eastern China and his flight into the protection of U.S. diplomats in Beijing last week, seem to have created a diplomatic crisis between US and China. It also threatened to derail the annual US-China strategic talks with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (ANI)

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