AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
BEIJING: Details of how Chinese blind activist Chen Guangcheng gained entry to the embassy and the circumstances of his departure have been unclear, but The New York Times has given a gripping account of a flight to safety that included a car chase through Beijing. It said that Chen made his way to the capital where friends had arranged a rendezvous with US officials after hauling himself over walls to escape house arrest. With Chinese security closing in on them, Chen was pulled into an American vehicle, which threw off the tail and headed for the embassy where the activist was secreted in a US Marine dormitory. Chen has since said he felt pressured to leave the embassy, fearing for the safety of his family who suffered repeated abuses at the hands of local officials in their hometown. Rights activists said on Friday that Chinese police had also detained Chen’s supporters at the hospital where he is being treated, and have beaten two of them. US State Department officials have been adamant that Chen never requested asylum and strongly denied allegations that he was pressured to leave. Chen’s flight came despite round-the-clock surveillance at his house in Shandong, where he has been under heavy restrictions after completing his jail term in 2010.