China dissident in US says kin being harassed back home
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Almost a year after the Chinese human rights advocate Chen Guangcheng made an audacious escape from detention in his home village, his family there remains under surveillance and his jailed nephew has said he was beaten and warned by officials not to challenge his conviction, Guangcheng and his older brother said.
Guangcheng, who is blind, catapulted to international fame last May when he departed for New York after seeking refuge at the US embassy in Beijing.
Now he and an older brother have described threats and surveillance that Guangcheng said showed that tethers on dissent remain tight under the new Communist Party leader Xi Jinping. "They've never stopped monitoring us for one day after Chen Guangcheng left. There's still surveillance in the village," Chen Guangfu, the older brother who lives in Dongshigu village in Shandong province, said. "The guards, they're still here, just a bit more hidden."
Guangfu's son, Chen Kegui, was sentenced to three years and three months in prison in November for assaulting and injuring a government official who broke into the family's home in April during a frantic search for the escaped Guangcheng. A brief trial followed.
During a visit from family members on February 28, Kegui told them he was beaten and threatened by guards before the trial, and that he has since been warned by prison officials not to attempt any appeals of the sentence, said his father, Chen Guangfu. Detention center guards repeatedly "threatened him that if he did not follow their demands or if he appealed, he'd face a life sentence," Chen Guangcheng said from New York on Tuesday. "They also said that if he disobeyed then his parents and child could come under threat at any time," he said. "That's the reason why Chen Kegui told the court that he wouldn't appeal."
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