Relatives of China activist lawyer depart for US


Wang Jinxiang, center, the mother of blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng is assisted by her other son Chen Guangfu, right, and their friend Zhou Li, left, as they arrive at the capital airport to catch a flight to New York for a family reunion, in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013. The mother and brother will visit Chen Guangcheng, the prominent human rights activist who has lived in New York since soon after escaping house arrest in China in dramatic fashion in April last year with his wife and two children. Chen dodged a security cordon around his home in east China's Shandong province and sought refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prevailed on Chinese officials to allow him to leave for the U.S. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) | Zoom

BEIJING (AP) - The mother and brother of blind activist Chinese lawyer Chen Guangcheng flew to the U.S. Wednesday for a family reunion amid concerns for the health of another relative imprisoned in China.

Before boarding their flight in Beijing, Wang Jinxiang and Chen Guangfu said they were uncertain how long they would stay in New York, where Chen Guangcheng has lived since soon after escaping house arrest in China in April last year with his wife and two children.

However, Chen Guangfu said they would definitely return as long as his son Chen Kegui remains in prison. Chen Kegui is suffering from appendicitis and Chen Guangfu said he looked noticeably thinner during their last prison visit on April 11.

"When we asked why, he said it was because he was eating very little and because the living conditions were not so good," Chen said.

Following years of persecution and illegal detention for advising villagers on their legal rights, Chen Guangcheng eluded a security cordon around his home in east China's Shandong province and sought refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. U.S. diplomats prevailed on Chinese officials to allow him to leave for the U.S.

After a one-year fellowship at New York University, Chen now is sponsored by the Catholic University of America, the Witherspoon Institute and the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice.

Chen Kegui was sentenced to three years, three months in prison last November for attacking officials who stormed his home to search for his uncle in what was viewed as retaliation by local officials.

The family had been suffering from continuing harassment by local authorities, but Chen Guangfu said conditions had improved somewhat and Beijing's decision to allow him and his mother to travel to the U.S. appeared to be another indication that pressure on the family was being lifted.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Top Stories

  • The Principal's Office
    Somebody's in trouble - lawmakers have to face the State Supreme Court for a lack of action

  • Get Out of Jail Free?
    Why Seattle firefighters won't face felony charges in alleged homeless beating
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know a student who stands out in the classroom, school and community?
Help make their dreams come true by nominating them for a $1,000 scholarship and a chance to earn a $10,000 Grand Prize. Brought to you by KIRO Radio and Comprehensive Wealth Management.

Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.