News24

Chinese activist never pressured, says US

2012-05-03 09:04

Beijing - The US ambassador to China on Thursday strongly denied accounts that Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng was pressured to leave the US embassy in Beijing.

"I can tell you unequivocally that he was never pressured to leave. He was excited and eager about leaving," Ambassador Gary Locke told reporters a day after Chen left the US embassy under a controversial deal.

Some activists have said that Chen left the embassy under pressure, including threats by China to retaliate against his wife if the 40-year-old activist did not leave.

Locke said that US officials listened to part of a telephone conversation between Chen and his wife, which he said was held away from Chinese authorities, shortly before his decision to leave the embassy.

"She was imploring him to come to the hospital to be reunited with the family and saying that there will always be uncertainties and we need to take first steps," Locke said.

Locke said that Chen told him during their hours of conversation that he was prepared to spend "years" in the US embassy unless he had a deal that met his satisfaction.

Locke said that Chen was satisfied with Wednesday's agreement after rejecting an earlier proposal, which he did not describe in detail.

The ambassador said that Chen had wanted a first gesture from the Chinese side to prove its sincerity, which was met when his family was allowed to travel to Beijing to see him.