4 May 2012

Chinese activist makes phone appeal for US asylum

1:31 pm on 4 May 2012

Chinese dissident Chen Guangchen has made a dramatic telephone call to a United States congressional hearing to plead for help in his attempts to leave China with his family.

"I want to come to the US to rest. I have not had a rest in 10 years," Mr Chen said in comments made on a mobile telephone that was held up to a microphone at the hearing.

He said he was concerned about the safety of his family.

Mr Chen left the US embassy in Beijing on Wednesday and later appealed for asylum in the United States.

The blind activist said he wanted to discuss his plans further with American officials, but believes they were being prevented from seeing him in the Beijing hospital where he is staying.

A US State Department spokesperson says it is clear Mr Chen and his wife have had a change of heart since he left the embassy.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Beijing to attend talks focusing on North Korea and Syria.