4:15pm

Sat April 28, 2012
The Two-Way

Chinese Dissident Reportedly Hiding In U.S. Embassy

Chen Guangchen, the blind Chinese legal activist who escaped home custody, is said to be hiding inside the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. The U.S.-based Christian human rights group, CHINAaid, made the claim, saying they got the information "from a source close to the Chen Guangchen situation."

CHINAaid founder and president Bob Fu told NPR that Chen wants to stay in China but may be forced into exile. Fu suggested the situation could be transformed, if Chinese leaders used the situation to restore Chen's freedom — maybe even change it into a "face-saving situation."

Neither the Chinese nor the U.S. government have publicly commented, according to NPR's Louisa Lim, although she told weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz she spoke with a witness who says Chen is inside the embassy.

Louisa says Chen's escape was dramatic; although blind, he evaded at least 70 guards outside his home, scaled a wall behind his house, hurting his leg in the process and spent about 20 hours edging his way to freedom. He was eventually met by a supporter who drove him on to safety.

Chen's situation could complicate Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to China next week. Lim says the timing is "awkward" — Clinton mentioned Chen's case in a speech late last year and it will be difficult for the U.S. to turn its back on him now, but Lim says this may lead to a "diplomatic row" neither side really wants.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.