Chinese Dissident Calls Congress: I Need Help
Chen Guangcheng phones in to committee hearing on Capitol Hill
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 3, 2012 5:29 PM CDT
Chen Guangcheng, center, holds hands with U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke, right, as U.S. State Department legal adviser Harold Koh, left, applauds, on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/US Embassy Beijing Press Office, HO)

(Newser) – A congressional hearing called today to discuss the plight of blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng got a first-hand perspective: Chen himself called in from his hospital bed in Beijing to ask for US help in leaving the country, reports Reuters. "I want to come to the US to rest," he said. "I have not had a rest in 10 years." He requested to meet with Hillary Clinton, both to seek help and to "thank her face to face." (Earlier, Chen told the Daily Beast he hoped to leave on her plane.)

Chen also said he feared for those who helped him escape house arrest and for his family. "The thing I (am) most concerned (about) right now is the safety of my mother, my brothers, and I really want to know what's going on with them." Chen left the US embassy when the US and Beijing struck an apparent deal in which he would remain in China. But Chen changed his mind upon release, citing threats to his family. Republicans now accuse the White House of rushing into a bad deal ahead of Clinton's visit. "If these reports are true, this is a dark day for freedom and it’s a day of shame for the Obama administration," said Mitt Romney, according to the New York Times.