Family members to visit blind China activist in US

AP News
Posted: Nov 04, 2013 10:46 PM

BEIJING (AP) — The brother of blind Chinese lawyer Chen Guangcheng says he'll fly to the U.S. on Wednesday with his mother for a family reunion.

Chen Guangfu said Tuesday that no decision has been made on how long they'll stay in New York.

Chen Guangcheng 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.

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 Guangfu's son 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.

Chen Guangcheng had been subjected to years of persecution and illegal detention for his work advising villagers on how to counter official abuses.

The family had been suffering from continuing harassment by local authorities, but Chen Guangfu said that appeared to be coming to an end. The government'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.

"Things of late have been quite a bit better," Chen said.