A blind Chinese activist whose escape from a rural village set off a diplomatic tussle between Beijing and Washington said today that he was at an airport waiting to leave for the United States.
Chen Guangcheng said he had left the hospital where he’d been staying and was at Beijing’s international airport. He said he expected to leave for the US later today.
He said his wife and two children were with him, but that the three did not yet have their passports. Also with him were hospital and border control staff.
“Thousands of thoughts are surging to my mind,” said Mr Chen, who escaped illegal house arrest in his village last month and sought the protection of US diplomats at the American Embassy in Beijing.
He left the embassy on May 2 and was treated in hospital. Since then, he has been awaiting permission to travel to the US to study.
The State Department has said that US visas for Mr Chen, his wife and children are ready for them to travel to America.
Mr Chen has an invitation to study law at New York University.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that it had no comment on Mr Chen’s planned departure.