September 16, 2014


NEW YORK (BP) -- In one of his first televised interviews since seeking refuge in the United States, former Chinese prisoner Chen Guangcheng told CNN's Anderson Cooper "the brutality was beyond anyone's imagination."

"I want to correct one thing here," Chen told CNN. "When we talk about my situation in the future, let's not use the word 'house arrest' but instead let's use the term 'illegal detention.' It's hard for me to describe what it was like during that time. But let's just say that my suffering was beyond imagination."

Chen, a blind self-taught human rights lawyer, was imprisoned for four years for helping to expose the cruelty of China's one-child policy and then was placed under strict surveillance in his home. Chen's investigation uncovered women being forced to have abortions. He escaped in April and now is in New York, where he will study law at New York University.

Recently, Chen had an opportunity to sit outdoors in freedom for the first time in several years.

"I haven't been able to feel the nature for a long time," he told CNN. "On that day I had some time to soak in the sun and feel the breeze. I just felt I hadn't been able to do that in so long. I have missed out for too long."

Chen is scheduled to speak Thursday (May 31) at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York alongside his mentor, New York University law professor Jerome Cohen, whom he met in 2003 when Chen traveled to the United States.

Bob Fu, president of the Texas-based ChinaAid Association, met with Chen in his New York apartment May 23. The two hugged tightly for a long time and spoke for three hours, ChinaAid said. The aid organization asked for prayer for Chen's family "to overcome new tough challenges after their arrival" in the United States.

In the CNN interview May 24, Chen declined to speak further about the brutality he and his wife experienced at the hands of authorities in their home village. He realizes people are concerned about him, he said, but he still needs time to gather his thoughts. Read More

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