It was hard to take seriously the news that Chen Guangcheng, the blind activist who's been holed up in the U.S. embassy in Beijing, left "of his own volition," as China's state-run media had reported. Now that he's actually gotten the chance to talk to a reporter, it's clear he left under duress, and now wants to split the country entirely.
It was The Associated Press' Alexa Olesen and Matthew Lee who got through to Chen at the hospital where he's currently staying, after his friend, activist Zeng Jinyan, tweeted that he'd left U.S. custody because China had threatened his family. Chen hadn't spoken of leaving China before, but he said, "I think we'd like to rest in a place outside of China." And then in an appeal to the United States: "Help my family and me leave safely." He confirmed to the AP that U.S. officials told him his wife would be beaten to death if he stayed. However, the State Department told Foreign Policy's The Cable blog that no U.S. officials relayed threats to Chen. "I was there. Chen made the decision to leave the Embassy after he knew his family was safe and at the hospital waiting for him, and after twice being asked by Ambassador Locke if he [was] ready to go," Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell told FP's Josh Rogin.