Chen’s escape shamed officials, but broke no law:Beijing cops
BEIJING SINCE blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng was being held under illegal house arrest, his only offense in escaping may have been to embarrass his captors - vengeful local officials bent on punishing him for exposing forced abortions.
Even police in Beijing seem to tacitly acknowledge this, with a Chen supporter saying Tuesday that officers have noted in recent days that the activist broke no laws in his surprising escape through the security cordon surrounding his farmhouse in eastern China.
Activists say Chen was delivered into the protection of U.S. diplomats in Beijing late last week, and that American and Chinese officials are deliberating his fate in hopes of resolving the situation before the arrival of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday for high-level talks.
Bob Fu of the Texasbased group ChinaAid, citing a source close to both governments, said they are discussing a deal to secure American asylum for Chen.
However, Chen’s supporters have said he does not want to leave the country.
The U.S. State Department has repeatedly refused to comment on the case.
In the days since Chen reached the presumed custody of U.S. diplomats, security forces and officials have detained several of his supporters for questioning, including Beijing-based activist and Chen’s friend, Hu Jia.
However, Hu said that the two police officers who questioned him in Beijing acknowledged that Chen, as well as two other activists who helped him flee his home in eastern China, did not act illegally.
“They are all free citizens,” Hu quoting the police officers as saying.
“For them to come to Beijing and so on, there is nothing illegal about it.
They are free to do so. They did not do anything wrong, they have no legal trouble.
We just want to understand the situation and verify it.” Hu also said that he understood from meeting with Chen after the escape that Chen did not wish to flee to the U.S
Beijing police had no immediate response to a faxed request for comment.
The police acknowledgment is an indication that Chen’s troubles with the authorities have primarily been about revenge by local leaders, who had seemed especially bitter and personal in their mistreatment of Chen.
Even after he served four years in prison on charges his supporters say were fabricated, local officials kept him and his wife confined at home since his release in September 2010. They did so despite lacking any legal basis, prevented outsiders from visiting the family and occasionally beat him and his wife up.
Burly men patrolling the village and stationed on a main road leading into the community have beaten up would-be visitors to Chen’s house, thrown stones at reporters and threatened diplomats.