Blind Dissident Faked Sickness Before Escape in China

Chen Guangcheng shows up Beijing by slipping away
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2012 8:10 AM CDT
In this photo taken in late April 2012, and provided by Hu Jia, blind Chinese legal activist Chen Guangcheng, left, meets with Hu at an undisclosed location.   (AP Photo/Courtesy of Hu Jia)
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(Newser) – So how exactly does a dissident who has been blind since childhood escape house arrest in China and travel hundreds of miles to safety? The details of Chen Guangcheng's feat are still murky, though the Washington Post says the lawyer pretended to be sick for weeks. When his captors let down their guard, he climbed a high wall "on a moonless night" and began his journey to Beijing. The Guardian has him evading "eight checkpoints and close to 100 guards."

Chen got help from what the New York Times calls an "underground network of human rights activists" and collects this great quote from fellow dissident Ai Weiwei: “You know he’s blind, so the night to him is nothing,” said Ai (himself quoting a friend who met with Chen). “I think that’s a perfect metaphor.” At least one helper, He Peirong, has been arrested for her role in the escape—she picked up Chen in her car at some point and drove him into Beijing. Chen is, by all accounts, in the safety of the US Embassy, though American officials have not publicly confirmed. It sets up a dicey situation for both Washington and Beijing, especially as it comes just a week ahead of Hillary Clinton's visit.

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