02 May 2012 at 12:28 BST

'Barefoot lawyer' willingly leaves US embassy

Chen Guangcheng - the so called Chinese barefoot lawyer - has left the US embassy in Beijing for medical treatment in a local hospital, media reports claimed today.

Mr Chen – a 40-year-old renowned human rights activist who has been blind from an early age – is understood to have spent the last week under American protection, in a dramatic move that threatened to cast controversy over the arrival in the country earlier today of Washington’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a previously arranged summit meeting with Chinese officials.

High-level escort

According to US broadcaster ABC, a team of Americans – including Ambassador Gary Locke, State Department legal adviser Harold Koh and Assistant Secretary of State for Asian and Pacific Asian Affairs Kurt Campbell -- escorted Mr Chen to a hospital where he was met by his wife and their two small children. The broadcaster said Mr Chen had left the embassy voluntarily and that it was not known how long Mr Chen will remain at the hospital. It claimed that ‘US officials will continue to be able to meet with him while he is there’.

Kisses for Clinton

ABC also reported that Mr Chen's first telephone call after leaving US the embassy was with Ms Clinton. It claims that ‘in broken English he told her, "I want to kiss you."’
The BBC quoted Mr Chen's lawyer, Li Jinsong, as saying he had spoken to his client over the telephone. According to the report, Mr Li said Mr Chen was ‘very happy and wants to hug all his friends’.

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