Did the United States betray the Chinese human rights lawyer?
The United States said a deal with China would set Chen free and allow him to relocate within the country along with his family and attend a university. But Chen has told CNN that the U.S. government let him down. The United States insists the activist left the diplomatic compound willingly and wanted to remain in China. However, Chen said he fears for his life, his wife's safety and wants to leave the country. More troubling, he claims that U.S. officials, instead of extending their protection, pressured him to leave the safety of the embassy.
If this is true, it is a dark mark of shame for the United States. Until now, President Obama had a mixed record on human rights. This was an important test for an administration that has favored pragmatism over emotionally satisfying displays.
Jay Solomon (Wall St. Journal) notes that the White House was taking bows and strutting this morning. BBC reports that this evening Chen has revealed that he fears for his life and wants to leave China, that he only left the embassy because threats were made.
Here's Wikipedia on Chen:
Chen Guangcheng (born 12 November 1971) is a Chinese civil rights activist who works on human rights issues in rural areas of the People's Republic of China. Blind from an early age and self-taught in the law, Chen is frequently described as a "barefoot lawyer" who advocates for women's rights and the poor. He is best known for exposing alleged abuses in official family planning policy, often involving claims of violence and forced abortions.
In 2005, he became internationally known for organizing a class-action lawsuit against the city of Linyi in Shandong for excessive enforcement of the one-child policy. As a result of this lawsuit, Chen was placed under house arrest from September 2005 to March 2006, with a formal arrest in June 2006. During his trial, Chen's attorneys were forbidden access to the court, leaving him without a proper defender. On 24 August 2006, Chen was sentenced to four years and three months for "damaging property and organising a mob to disturb traffic".
Chen was released from prison on 8 September 2010 after serving his full sentence, but remained under house arrest or "soft detention" at his home in Dongshigu Village (东师古村). Chen and his wife were reportedly beaten shortly after a human rights group released a video of their home under intense police surveillance on 9 February 2011.
It would appear the White House has truly bungled things -- at best.
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"