“The Chinese government has made many promises on many things, but they never keep their promises”

U.S. diplomats did not accompany Chen after he arrived at the hospital, where the first signs of trouble surfaced. Around 8:30 p.m., Zeng Jihyan, the wife of Chinese activist Hu Jia, began tweeting that Chen was surrounded by plainclothes officials and fearful that the deal was unraveling. Videotape purportedly made at the Beijing hospital showed Chen in a wheelchair being followed by men recording his movements.

“At dusk when I left the hospital his entire family was waiting in the outpatient ward # 9,” Zheng tweeted. “The kids couldn’t go out and the son was crying really hard.”

Bob Fu, director of China­Aid, a Christian activist group based in Texas, said he had received reports that Chen had been directly threatened in the hospital as soon as he was alone and that his whereabouts were not clear. Fu said Chen was warned that unless he accepted the proposed deal, he would “never see his wife and two children again.”

Hours after announcing the deal for Chen’s freedom, U.S. officials found themselves defending their actions.