BEIJING (AP) — Family members have been able to see Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng's nephew for the first time since he was detained nine months ago after his uncle's escape from house arrest.
Chen Kegui was convicted of attacking officials during the raid, though supporters say the prosecution was retribution from local authorities angered by his uncle's escape.
"I asked him if he was tortured. He said there was no torture, but there has been deception and coaxing," his father, Chen Guangfu, said Friday, a day after the visit, adding his son felt he was deceived into declining family-appointed lawyers during his trial.
Just two days earlier in Washington, Chen Guangcheng stood next to Richard Gere and addressed an audience that included American lawmakers as he received a human rights award. He also visited Disneyland with Batman star Christian Bale. In December, he was named GQ magazine's Rebel of the Year.
Chen has repeatedly called for public attention to his nephew's case, saying the prosecution of his nephew has trampled the rule of law.
Chen's bold escape from house arrest in eastern Shandong province in April embarrassed China. He fled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, setting off a diplomatic tussle between China and the United States. China subsequently allowed him to go to the U.S. to study law, and he has become something of a celebrity in his new life.
Chen Kegui was convicted in November of attacking officials who stormed his house looking for his uncle and sentenced to three years and three months in prison. Chen Guangcheng says his nephew acted in self-defense after officials barged into his house at night and beat him.
Family members were barred from his hurried, suddenly announced trial.
Chen Guangfu said that he, his wife and daughter-in-law met with his son Thursday at a prison in eastern Shandong province. "He appeared to be in good spirits, he was a bit emotional," said Chen Guangfu. "He felt deceived and he was angry. He had conflicting feelings."
The father said the family was notified in early January of the arranged visit. When Chen Guangfu, his wife Ren Zongju, and Chen Kegui's wife Liu Fang met the 33-year-old, they were told their conversations would be monitored, but that no topic would be off-limits.
Chen Guangfu said he asked his son why he had not used lawyers chosen by his family for his trial.
"He said he didn't understand the details very well and was told that outside lawyers would not work and that if he would use court-appointed lawyers, he would get the minimum sentence," Chen Guangfu said.
"I also asked him if anyone had told him the family wanted to appeal on his behalf. He said he wasn't informed of this."
Chen Kegui said he lashed out at the officials during the night of the raid on April 26 only because they assaulted him.
"Kegui said he only fought back when he could not stomach it anymore," Chen Guangfu said.
Chen Guangfu said they took along Kegui's 6-year-old son Chen Fubin to the prison, but in the end decided not to let him see his father.
"He is too young. He is waiting for his father to be home for the Chinese New Year. He said it's time to set off fireworks and that he can do that when his dad is home," he said.
AP writer Didi Tang in Beijing contributed to this report.