China activist Chen Guangcheng flying to New York?

Agence France-Presse
The self-taught legal activist had made his way to the US mission after a dramatic escape from his home in east China, where he had been under house arrest

BEIJING, China – Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng said Saturday he was at Beijing’s international airport and that he believed he would be flying to New York.

“I’m at the airport. I do not have a passport. I don’t know when I will be leaving. I think I’m going to New York,” he told AFP by telephone.

He said he thought Chinese authorities might hand the passport directly to US officials, who would then insert a US visa before giving it to him.

An AFP photographer outside the hospital where Chen had been for more than two weeks witnessed a motorcade leaving the hospital compound in the early afternoon. It was not clear whether Chen was in the motorcade.

Chen, 40, had been at the Beijing hospital since he left the US embassy in the Chinese capital, where he had sought refuge for several days.

The self-taught legal activist had made his way to the US mission after a dramatic escape from his home in east China, where he had been under house arrest.

When contacted by AFP earlier in the day, Chen had said there was still no news regarding plans for him and his family to leave China for the United States, suggesting he was told at the last minute to go to the airport.

Chen was in touch Wednesday with Chinese officials, who told him they planned to give him a passport within 15 days.

Chen, one of China’s best-known dissidents, has won plaudits for exposing rights abuses including forced sterilizations and late-term abortions under China’s “one-child” family planning policy.

His escape to the US embassy came just days ahead of the arrival in Beijing of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for one of the most important Sino-US meetings of the year.

The presence of the high-profile Chinese activist in the embassy at the sensitive time sent diplomats on both sides scrambling for a solution.

Initially, Chen agreed to leave the embassy compound in return for a Chinese promise to let him stay in China under more tolerable conditions.

He soon changed his mind and instead told reporters he did not feel safe and wanted to leave for the United States. – Rappler.com

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