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Supporters of blind Chinese activist gather outside hospital

2012/05/02 23:15:05

Beijing, May 2 (CNA) Supporters and a large contingent of local and foreign media gathered outside a Beijing hospital after Chen Guangcheng, the blind human rights activist, left U.S. Embassy in Beijing Wednesday and was reportedly seeking medical treatment at the hospital.

Chen suffered an injury to his foot during his dramatic escape from house arrest last month in Shandong province, and was walking with a crutch, the New York Times quoted a U.S. official as reporting.

China's official Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday that "Chen entered U.S. embassy in late April and left there on his volition after staying for six days."

Beijing police deployed outside Chaoyang Hospital were nervous and set up a police line and asked all media reporters to stay behind the line.

Lawyer Jiang Tianyong who claimed to be close to Chen tried to enter the hospital to visit Chen, but was stopped by police.

Jiang said that Chinese Foreign Ministry's claim that U.S. embassy "brought Chinese citizen Chen Guangcheng into the embassy in an abnormal way" is "absurd," saying that Chen entered the embassy of his own volition.

Jiang said that he does not think Chen would want to leave China, but has no other way because his freedom is restricted.

Jiang said that he last saw Chen in 2009 when his health situation was aleady poor, especially because of his serious bloody stool and he was "worried about his health."

At around 6:30 p.m. a black limousine with a U.S. embassy plaque drove out of the hospital, but the identity of the passenger could not be confirmed.

At 6:43 p.m. a man of around 30 in red held a white paper with the words "freedom for Guangchen and democracy for China" to the media, but he was soon dragged into the hospital by police for interrogation.

ABC reports said U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke, Legal Advisor to the Department of State Harold Koh and Assistant Secretary of State for Asian and Pacific Asian Affairs Kurt Campbell escorted Chen to the hospital where he was reunited with his wife, Yuan Weijing, and their two small children. It's not known how long Chen will remain in the hospital.

New York Times reported that Chen left the American embassy after securing assurances from the Chinese government that he would remain safe.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who arrived in Beijing earlier in the day to attend the two-day U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, had a telephone conversation with Chen after he left the compound.

(By Chiu Kuo-chiang and Lilian Wu)