Chinese Activist 'Very Disappointed' in the U.S., Says Officials Lied to Him

Chen Guangcheng, who left the U.S. embassy in Beijing this morning, portrays American officials as having manipulated him to encourage his departure.

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Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, center, at the U.S. embassy in Beijing with State Department official Harold Koh, left, and U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke, right. AP.

A little over 12 hours after blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng was released from the U.S. embassy in Beijing, to which he had fled after escaping house arrest, Chen now says that American officials encouraged him to leave the safe haven of the embassy building, in part by making promises that they failed to keep. In an interview with CNN's Steven Jiang, he expressed deep disappointment with the U.S. and with President Barack Obama personally. He said that embassy officials were no longer picking up his calls and that he already felt his rights being "violated" by the Chinese government, which had promised him his freedom in exchange for him leaving the embassy. He strenuously and repeatedly asked the U.S. and Obama to help him and his family leave China.

The interview portrays Chen as furious at the U.S., which he had only 24 hours ago seen as his greatest hope, and portrays the Obama administration as having sold out the high-profile activist, who in 2005 made an enemy of the Chinese government when he campaigned against thousands of forced abortions and forced sterilizations.

The interview, initially published on Jiang's verified blogspot account, has since been removed. Neither he nor CNN appear to have explained why. (Update: Jiang, on Twitter, says he removed the interview to re-post it later as part of a larger story, which is now up.)

Chen's comments portray the U.S. as manipulating him, cutting him off from outside communication and encouraging him to leave the embassy rather than seek asylum. He said he was denied his requests to call friends. He said he felt the embassy officials had lied to him.

"The embassy kept lobbying me to leave and promised to have people stay with me in the hospital. But this afternoon as soon as I checked into the hospital room, I noticed they were all gone," he said. "I'm very disappointed at the U.S. government. ... I don't think [U.S. officials] protected human rights in this case."

When asked why he had left the embassy rather than staying and perhaps seeking asylum, Chen seemed to blame the embassy officials. "At the time I didn't have a lot of information. I wasn't allowed to call my friends from inside the embassy. I couldn't keep up with news so I didn't know a lot of things that were happening," he said.

Chen agreed when Jiang asked him, "If you stay in China, is there no future?" He also said that he had tried calling two U.S. embassy officials "numerous times" but that no one had answered. "I told the embassy I would like to talk to Rep. [Chris] Smith but they somehow never managed to arrange it. I feel a little puzzled."

He described the Chinese police's brutal treatment of his wife while he was in detention, which appears to have been a tool for coercing his departure from the embassy. "[My wife] was tied to a chair by police for two days. Then they carried sticks to our home, threatening to beat her to death," he said, adding that they told her she would be sent home to Shandong province and beaten there if Chen did not leave the embassy.

The activist pleaded with the U.S. to remove him and his family from China. "I want them to protect human rights through concrete actions. We are in danger. If you can talk to Hillary [Clinton], I hope she can help my whole family leave China," he said. "I would like to say to [President Obama]: Please do everything you can to get our whole family out."

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Max Fisher is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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