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Chinese Activist Chen Offered Fellowship In American University

The United States has said that activist Chen Guangcheng, who was given permission to apply to study abroad, has been offered a fellowship from an American university, where he can be accompanied by his wife and two children.

An announcement in this regard by US State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland came hours after the Chinese Government said on Friday that Chen has the same right to travel abroad as any other citizen of China. The State Department did not specify the name of the University.

A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a press release on Friday that the 40-year-old blind legal activist may apply to study abroad "according to laws with relevant departments and through the same channels as other Chinese citizens."

The Chinese Government has indicated that it will accept Chen's applications for appropriate travel documents. The United States Government expects that the Chinese Government will expeditiously process his applications for these documents and make accommodations for his current medical condition, Nuland said in a statement. The United States Government would then give visa requests for him and his immediate family priority attention, she added.

This matter has been handled in the spirit of a cooperative U.S.-China partnership, the US official said as high-level U.S.-China talks closed in Beijing on Friday.

Chen Guangcheng, who reportedly said he fears for his life and wants to leave China hours after leaving his refuge in the U.S. Embassy

Chen is currently undergoing treatment at a Beijing hospital for a foot injury incurred during his escape from 19 months of unlawful detention in his home village of Dongshigu in Shandong province on April 22. U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke and other senior American officials accompanied Chen to the hospital following his emergence after six days of hiding at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

Chinese police have sealed the Chaoyang Hospital, where media as well as U.S. officials have been denied access to Chen's room, reports say.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International said that China's pledge that it will allow Chen Guangcheng to go abroad with his family so he can study "seems empty as long as the Chinese state keeps the activist's wider family in detention and retaliates against his supporters."

Chen's older brother is believed to be in police custody while the whereabouts of his nephew and mother are unknown.

Catherine Baber, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Deputy Director, urged the Chinese authorities to honor their commitment to both Chen and the US to thoroughly and impartially investigate his claims of abuse while under illegal house arrest in Shandong province, and ensure the results of any investigation are made public.

by RTT Staff Writer

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