BEIJING – The brother of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng has fled hisclosely guarded village to seek legal advice Thursday in Beijing onhow to protect his son from what their supporters call retaliationby local officials, an attorney said. Chen sought protection of U.S. diplomats last month after escapingvirtual house arrest in his hometown, sparking a standoff betweenBeijing and Washington and highlighting the extralegal measurestaken by local Chinese officials to suppress dissent. The two countries resolved the standoff by agreeing to let Chen andhis immediate family travel to the U.S. |
so that he could attend auniversity, but his supporters say the legal activist's extendedfamily in Shandong province faces a continued crackdown. His nephew, Chen Kegui, has been arrested and accused of attemptedmurder during a clash last month with local officials who burstinto his home looking for Chen after his escape. Chen Guangfu — the activist's brother and the father of ChenKegui — met Thursday in Beijing with attorney Ding Xikui todiscuss his son's case, the lawyer said. Ding says he and another attorney were authorized by Chen Kegui'swife to defend him.
However, police at the Yinan detention centerwhere Chen Kegui is being have told the lawyers thatgovernment-appointed attorneys will be representing him instead. Ding said Chen Guangfu wanted to meet with him to affirm that he,too, wanted Ding to represent his son, not the government-appointedlawyers. "We are still in negotiations with the local authorities" on ChenKegui's case, Ding said, adding that Chen Guangfu also wanted tomeet his daughter-in-law who is staying in Beijing. Two other rights lawyers said that Chen Guangfu called them once heleft the village.
One of them, Jiang Tianyong, said Chen Guangfudescribed the security situation in his hometown as having becometighter since Chen Guangcheng escaped the village a month ago. "There are more people, many more people. They are stationed at theentrance of the village and at major intersections, they are spreadeven farther and wider," Jiang said. Chen Guangcheng is a self-taught legal activist who gainedrecognition for crusading for the disabled and fighting againstforced abortions in his rural community.
But he angered localofficials and was convicted in 2006 on what his supporters say werefabricated charges. After serving four years in prison, he thenfaced an abusive and illegal house arrest. Chen made a daring escape from his village in April and wound up inthe protection of U.S. diplomats, triggering a diplomatic standoffover his fate. Officials struck a deal that let Chen walk free,only to see him have second thoughts.
That forced new negotiationsthat led to an agreement to send him to the U.S. to study law, agoal of his, at New York University. The departure of Chen, his wife and two children to the UnitedStates on Saturday marked the conclusion of nearly a month ofuncertainty and years of mistreatment by local authorities for theactivist.
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