U.S. Says in Talks with Chinese Dissident on Optionsإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The United States acknowledged Thursday that Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng and his family wanted to leave the country and said it was in talks with him on his options.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that Chen and his wife, in conversations with U.S. officials, said that they no longer wanted to stay in China under a deal reached Wednesday in which he left U.S. embassy protection.
"It is clear now that in the last 12 to 15 hours they as a family have had a change of heart on whether they want to stay in China," Nuland said in Beijing, where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is taking part in previously scheduled talks.
"We need to consult with them further, get a better sense of what they want to do, and together consider their options," she told reporters.
Nuland said that U.S. officials on Thursday spoke twice with Chen by telephone and also spoke with his wife "for a long time".
Chen, in interviews with Agence France Presse and other media since the U.S. embassy took him to a Beijing hospital on Wednesday, said that he did not feel safe and wanted to leave China.
U.S. State Department officials have been adamant that Chen never requested asylum and strongly denied allegations that he was pressured to leave the embassy.
A U.S. official, speaking earlier on condition of anonymity, said that the United States stood ready to assist Chen but that it could not "prejudge" his options as the dissident was no longer in U.S. protection.
Chen, who has been blind since childhood, dramatically escaped house arrest on April 22 in the eastern province of Shandong and took refuge in the U.S. embassy in Beijing.
Ambassador Gary Locke said earlier that he was willing to let Chen stay indefinitely until he reached a deal that suited him.
Chen ran afoul of authorities for exposing forced abortions and sterilizations under China's one-child policy. Chen served four years in jail and was then put under house arrest, where he said that thugs would severely beat him and his wife due to his refusal to stay silent.