By MATTHEW LEE and SCOTT McDONALD
BEIJING (AP) – U.S. officials said Thursday they are still trying to help a blind Chinese activist who says he fears for his family‘s safety, and denied he was pressured to leave the American Embassy to resettle inside China.
The diplomatic dispute between Washington and Beijing over Chen Guangcheng is sensitive for the Obama administration. It risks appearing soft on human rights during an election year or looking as though it rushed to resolve Chen’s case ahead of strategic talks this week with China attended by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
After fleeing persecution by local officials in his rural town and seeking refuge in the embassy in Beijing for six days, Chen left Wednesday to get treatment for a leg injury at a Beijing hospital and be reunited with his family. U.S. officials said the Chinese government had agreed to resettle him in a university town of his choice.
Chen, 40, initially said he had assurances that he would be safe in China – which is what U.S. officials said he wanted – but hours later he told The Associated Press he feared for his family‘s safety unless they are all spirited abroad. He