Chen Guangchen and his family are on their way here,
BEIJING — Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng, who emerged at the center of a diplomatic row between the U.S. and China, left Beijing on a United Airlines flight bound for Newark, N.J., Saturday afternoon after Chinese officials and American diplomats swiftly arranged his travel out of the country for an uncertain new life in the United States.
Chen, in a brief telephone interview with The Washington Post, said he still did not have a valid passport in hand when he received a call Saturday from Chinese officials telling him to pack his belongings.
“They came to my ward suddenly at around 11 o’clock this morning,” Chen told the Post. “It’s a surprise.”
Chen said U.S. diplomats arrived at the airport around 2 p.m. Chen’s wife, Yuan Weijing, reached by telephone while waiting for the flight, said Chinese officals gave the family their passports after they arrived at the airport. U.S. diplomats readied the visa papers.
United Airlines Flight 88 to Newark took off several hours behind schedule. The delay was likely caused, among other things, by a thunderstorm.
His flight is scheduled to arrive in Newark at 6:05PM.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Chen will most likely study at NYU rather than seek political asylum.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement today regarding the announcement that Chinese lawyer and human rights advocate, Chen Guangcheng, has left China for the United States. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“I am pleased and relieved by the announcement that blind Chinese lawyer and human rights advocate, Chen Guangcheng, his wife, and their two children have left China for freedom in the United States.
“Mr. Chen’s journey to the U.S. marks the end of a seven-year ordeal of harassment, imprisonment, and beatings by the Chinese regime. He dared to publicly speak the truth about the abuse and violence that Chinese officials inflict on the women and families of his home province and, for that, he suffered greatly.
“I remain gravely concerned about Chen’s relatives and fellow human rights advocates who remain in China and face retribution by a Beijing regime that denies the most fundamental freedoms to the Chinese people.
“Congress will remain vigilant on behalf of Mr. Chen’s relatives and fellow activists. Their well-being must remain a priority for the United States. Responsible nations must not lose sight of our moral responsibility to support those who suffer under the chokehold of repressive rulers.”
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