Did the Obama administration abandon Chen? Update: “No one from the embassy is here”

posted at 12:01 pm on May 2, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

The story of Chinese democracy activist Chen Guangcheng took a bizarre turn this morning.  The dissident escaped house arrest and ended up at the US embassy in Beijing, with an injury to his foot in the escape.  The US then announced that they had negotiated safe passage to a hospital with the Chinese government, where Chen could be reunited with his family.  However, the AP reported a few minutes ago that the US told him that if he didn’t leave, the Beijing government would beat his wife to death — and now he fears for his life:

Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng says a U.S. official told him that Chinese authorities threatened to beat his wife to death had be not left the American Embassy.

Speaking by phone from his hospital room in Beijing on Wednesday night, a shaken Chen told The Associated Press that U.S. officials relayed the threat from the Chinese side.

Chen, who fled to the embassy six day ago, left under an agreement in which he would receive medical care, be reunited with his family and allowed to attend university in a safe place. He says he now fears for his safety and wants to leave.

Here was the story earlier today, from LifeNews and an earlier report from the AP:

In a new deal between the United States and China, Chen has left to a local hospital and is reportedly under American protection, as U.S officials have guaranteed his safety. U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke escorted Chen, according to an AP report, to the Chaoyang Hospital and, on the way there, Chen called his lawyer, Li Jinsong, who said Chen told him: “‘I’m free. I’ve received clear assurances.’” …

As part of the agreement that ended the fraught, behind-the-scenes standoff, U.S. officials said China agreed to let Mr. Chen receive a medical checkup and be reunited with his family at the hospital; his wife and two children joined him there Wednesday afternoon. He would then be relocated to a safe place in China where he could study at university — all demands activists said Mr. Chen had raised.

Clinton, in a statement, said Mr. Chen’s exit from the embassy “reflected his choices and our values” and said the U.S. would monitor the assurances Beijing gave. “Making these commitments a reality is the next crucial task,” she said.

It doesn’t sound as though Chen feels particularly “free” at the moment.  Did the Obama administration sell out Chen to the Beijing government?  If so, that sends a chilling message to democracy activists and dissidents around the world about American commitment to freedom, and Obama’s own insistence that he would be on the side of freedom-loving activists.

Update: LifeNews has this update:

As LifeNews has reported, media reports from AP and elsewhere indicate China and the United States agreed to a deal that allows Chen to receive a medical checkup and be reunited with his family at the hospital. He would then be relocated to a safe place in China where he could study at a university.

However, those initial reports turned out to the misleading, as new information surfaced showing Chen was reportedly pressured to leave the U.S. Embassy and accept the deal the United States struck with China to release Chen from its temporary protection. Now, Chen reportedly wants to leave China with his family, as he is worried about their safety.

Bob Fu, the president of ChinaAid, a U.S.-based human rights group that has worked closely with Chen and his Chinese supporters, says it has viewed relevant information released by the Chinese government regarding Chen’s release and says it was coerced. He and others have pointed out that Chinese officials have threatened Chen’s family and made suggestion it would kill his wife if Chen did not leave the U.S. Embassy.

Now, Fu tells LifeNews that Zeng Jinyan, wife of Chen’s best friend Hu Jia, posted a tweet which indicates that the media failed to report the correct information about Chen. he says sources inside China said the U.S. and Chinese governments have reached some kind of “shameful” agreement regarding Chen.

Zen Jinyan said on Twitter:  Guangcheng called me and told me that he didn’t say, according to media, “I want to kiss you” to Secretary Clinton.  What he actually said was “I want to see you.”

Chen’s activism includes opposition to China’s brutal one-child policy.  His imprisonment came as a result of exposing some of the government’s enforcement methods of their policy, one reason why LifeNews is covering this story so closely.

Update II: Looks like the abandonment is complete.  Chen told the media that no one from the embassy bothered to show at the hospital, and now Chen needs some other country’s help to get out of China:

U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke escorted Chen, according to an AP report, to the Chaoyang Hospital. However, the human rights group ChinaAid says received reports from reliable source that Chen’s decision for departure from the U.S. Embassy was done reluctantly because “serious threat to his immediate family members were made by Chinese government” if Chen refused to accept the Chinese government’s offer.

Now, Chen has spoken to the media for the first time and says he has been abandoned at the hospital.

“Nobody from the (US) Embassy is here. I don’t understand why. They promised to be here,” he told Channel 4, saying he had received promises he would have U.S. personnel with him there.

Asked if he was at the hospital because of his health, Chen told Channel 4, “No. 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.”

He also said he wants to stay in China:  “My biggest wish is to leave the country with my family and rest for a while. I haven’t had a Sunday [rest-day] in seven years.”

The Obama administration insists that Chen told them he wanted to stay in China.  Does that match the facts so far?


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