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Blind activist Chen Guangcheng says China pressured NYU to make him leave


Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese dissident who fled his home country to become a visiting scholar at New York University, accused the school on Sunday of asking him to leave because of “unrelenting pressure” from China.

NYU denied the claim, saying that it had said last year before the blind dissident arrived that his fellowship would last up to a year and end sometime this summer.

Chen sparked a diplomatic crisis between the United States and China after he fled house arrest last year and sought refuge at the US Embassy in Beijing. NYU helped Chen come to the United States after he expressed fears for his family's safety if they were to remain in China.

In a statement, Chen thanked NYU for its hospitality and "good support," but accused it of giving in to the Communist Party of China.

"In fact, as early as last August and September, the Chinese Communists had already begun to apply great, unrelenting pressure on New York University, so much so that after we had been in the United States just three to four months, NYU was already starting to discuss our departure with us," he wrote.

Chen, who has been blind from childhood and taught himself law, was a campaigner for farmers and disabled citizens. He exposed forced abortions in China before he was placed under house arrest in Shandon province.

He has continued to be critical of China's human rights record since his arrival in New York in May 2012 with his wife and two children.

Jerome Cohen, an NYU law professor and friend of Chen who helped broker his departure from China, told Reuters that "we should all base accusations on facts, not speculation and conspiracy theories unsupported by facts", when asked for a response to Chen's remarks.