Chen, a Chinese citizen, was convicted in 2006; the formal charges were “intentional destruction of property” and “gathering crowds to obstruct traffic.” He was released from prison in 2010, yet remained under house arrest, his home guarded by government thugs.
Last week under the cover of darkness, Chen, who is blind, quietly escaped. He traveled 300 miles to Beijing, where he is presumed to be in hiding at the U.S. Embassy.
Asked about Chen this weekend, John Brennan, the Obama administration counterterrorism adviser, said, “I think in all instances the president tries to balance our commitment to human rights, making sure that the people throughout the world have the ability to express themselves freely and openly, but also that we can continue to carry out our relationships with key countries overseas.”
While Brennan’s words ring true, they lack the passion that seems appropriate for such an event, one said to have given hope to the many Chinese dissidents struggling to break free from Beijing’s repression. As a Chinese documentary filmmaker summed it up for the AP, “If a blind person can break out of the darkness to freedom, then everyone can.”