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Blind human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng, who had been under house arrest for 16 months, escaped his home in Shandong province on Sunday with the aid of fellow activists. There were unconfirmed reports that he made his way to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
Singapore newspaper Lianhe Zaobao reported that Chen had entered the U.S. Embassy in Beijing on Thursday evening, citing unnamed sources. Phone calls to embassy officials remain unanswered and the security presence outside the building was the
Chen was first arrested in June 2006 after exposing forced abortions and sterilizations in Shandong's Linyi's prefecture. He was then sentenced to four years and three months in prison. In February 2011, Chen as well as his wife and daughter were put under house arrest where they allegedly were subjected to beatings.
"He wants to fight to the end for the freedom of normal Chinese citizens inside China. So he's not willing, at least at the time, to go abroad," said Fu.
Dubbed "the barefoot lawyer", Chen came to prominence in 2005 after he began to investigate reports of forced abortions and sterilisations in villages in his native Linyi district of Shandong province in eastern China. Using his skills as a self-taught lawyer, Chen filed a class action law suit on behalf of numerous women who had suffered brutal and illegal enforcement of China's one-child policy, embarrassing local officials and forcing national authorities to launch an investigation.
UPDATED: 5:36 p.m. ET -- Blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng spoke on the telephone during a Congressional Executive Commission on China hearing, asking for help to leave China with his family.
Chen told the commission he would be in a much worse situation had he not been taken into the U.S. embassy, adding that he wanted to thank Secretary of State Hillary Clinton face to face.
Speaking through a translator, Chen said he is concerned about the safety of his mother and brothers, adding he would want to find out how they were doing.
Frantic efforts to resolve the diplomatic wrangle surrounding Chen continued in Beijing Thursday after he appealed for asylum following what was described as a "change of heart" over an earlier deal.
U.S. officials said they are still trying to help the lawyer, who says he fears for his family's safety, and denied he was pressured to leave the American Embassy to resettle inside China in exchange for guarantees about his future treatment.
The US says it expects China to allow prominent dissident Chen Guangcheng to travel abroad soon.
The US state department said Mr Chen had been offered a fellowship at an American university, and it would allow his wife and children to accompany him.
Earlier, Beijing said the blind activist could apply to study abroad - paving the way for a resolution to a tense diplomatic stand-off with the US