3 May 2012

China dissident says famility threatened

10:19 am on 3 May 2012

Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng says he left his refuge in the US embassy in Beijing because Chinese authorities made threats to family members.

Mr Chen had been at the embassy for a week after escaping from house arrest in his home village in Shandong province.

The blind dissident left the embassy on Wednesday after securing guarantees that he could live in safety with his family in China but quickly appeared to have second thoughts.

Within hours of his release to a Beijing hospital and being reunited with his wife, Mr Chen gave interviews saying he feared for his life after he learned of the way his wife had been treated and he now wanted to leave the country.

Earlier, US officials and Chinese officials said Mr Chen left the embassy of his own free will after days of negotiations between the two governments.

US officials said that Mr Chen wanted to remain in China and that he never asked for asylum.

Under a deal described by US officials, China committed to allow Chen to be relocated within the country along with his family and to study at a university, an outcome that would have kept him a pivotal figure in China-US relations.