- (Photo: REUTERS/Pichi Chuang)
Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng is set to join the conservative Witherspoon Institute in New Jersey following his departure from New York University, which he says forced him to leave because of pressure from the Chinese government.
"We are taking the responsibility for the financial side and a home really where he can do his work," Witherspoon President Luis Tellez said in a phone interview, according to Reuters.
"We're not asking him to do anything specific," he added. "The main point is he's a truth teller, he tries to tell the truth as he sees it."
Chen, the blind human rights activist who has spoken out strongly against China's one-child policy and the government's practices of forced sterilizations and abortions, spent four years in jail and another 19 months in house arrest before Christians and other activists helped him escape to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. In May 2012 he was granted a U.S. visa along with his wife and two children, following notable international interest.
Although he accepted an offer from NYU to work as a visiting scholar, in June he revealed that the university had asked him to leave because of "great, unrelenting pressure" from "the Chinese communists." NYU has claimed, however, that Chen's position was only supposed to last for a year.
Chen will now serve as a distinguished fellow in human rights at Witherspoon for the next three years, and will also be affiliated with the Catholic University of America and the more liberal-leaning Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, Tellez revealed.
"It shows that the fight for freedom and human rights in China is not an issue of the right or left according to the political division in the U.S. politics and that Mr. Chen will be embraced by all the freedom-loving individuals, institutions and academics across the political spectrum," added Bob Fu of Christian group ChinaAid, who is also a friend of the activist.
Chen has received support from both House Speaker John Boehner and Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, as well as numerous members of Congress, who have urged the Obama administration to protect the Chinese dissident as much as possible.
A bipartisan letter sent to Secretary of State John Kerry in May read: "Chen Guangcheng and his family have suffered greatly at the hands of Chinese officials in Shandong Province," which reflects "a troubling trend of Chinese officials abusing, harassing, and intimidating the families of human rights activists in order to try to pressure these brave men and women into abandoning their important work."