NBC News: Chinese Activist Escapes

NBC Nightly News  April 28, 2012


The escape of a blind Chinese activist from house arrest is a remarkable story that pits two of the world’s superpowers against each other at a sensitive time. NBC’s Ian Williams reports.

>>> to begin with a story about one brave man whose cold, bold move could complicate relations between two players. a human rights activist outsmarted china’s elaborate security apparatus. escape from house arrest and may now be at the u.s. embassy in beijin beijing . what makes it more remarkable is that chen is blind. it happens before hillary clinton travels to china and could complicate religiations between the two county tris.

>> reporter: for years, he’s been a symbol of courage and defiance. he denounced his freedom in a video posted on youtube appealing to investigate the brutality. the 40-year-old self-trained lawyer has been blind since childhood after exposing forced sterilizations under china’s one child policy, he was jailed and then put under house arrest with his family. he documented their confinement. his every movement was monitored. visitors prevented from meeting with him. yet he was able to secretly plot his escape. friends say he evaded china’s oppressive security apparatus by pretending to be sick, hoping his jailers would lower their guard and they did. though blind, he escaped over a wall. friends drove him to beijing and to the u.s. embassy . though this has not been confirmed by washington or beijing .

>> our reliable source shared with us he was in the u.s. diplomatic protection .
>> reporter: there’s no sign of extra security at the u.s. embassy in beijing . if he is there, it comes at an awkward time for the u.s. with secretary of state hillary clinton due to visit next week. she referred to his plight in a speech last year.

>> when we see reports of lawyer, artists an others who are detained or disappeared, united states speaks out both publicly and privately.

>> reporter: it also comes as china’s leadership is embroiled in a huge scandal involving the purging of a rising political star amid accusations of corruption and murder. chen’s dash for freedom is another challenge for them and for the u.s. administration eager to gain chinese support on global issues from north korea to iran.


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