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Chinese Dissident Chen Guangcheng to Leave NYU After Year

Chinese Lawyer and Human Rights Activist Chen Guangcheng
Chinese lawyer and human rights activist Chen Guangcheng arrived in New York after fleeing to the U.S. embassy in Beijing following a year of house arrest. Photographer: Karen Bleier/AFP via Getty Images

Chen Guangcheng, a blind Chinese lawyer and human rights activist, will leave New York University, where he is a fellow, after fleeing China last year.

Chen, who arrived at NYU in May 2012 to study law, and his family will need to find a new place to live, John Beckman, a spokesman for NYU, said in an e-mailed statement. NYU has supplied Chen and his family housing, health care, food and clothing, Beckman said.

“NYU and Mr. Chen had discussions at the beginning of last fall that NYU could not support him indefinitely,” Beckman said in the statement yesterday. “We indicated that beyond this academic year he would need to make a transition to a more self-supporting life.”

Chen arrived in New York after fleeing to the U.S. embassy in Beijing following a year of house arrest. NYU law professor Jerome Cohen, a friend and supporter, helped arrange a fellowship at the university for Chen.

“No political refugee, even Albert Einstein, has received better treatment by an American academic institution than that received by Chen from NYU,” Cohen said in a statement. “I am grateful to the university administration for its extraordinary generosity, which could not reasonably be expected to go on indefinitely.”

He said Chen is in the process of choosing between two “attractive opportunities.”

Chen didn’t respond to e-mail requests for comment.

Chen’s departure isn’t a result of pressure from the Chinese government, as reported in a New York Post article yesterday, Beckman said. NYU received permission from the Chinese government to open a campus in Shanghai, and its first class begins in September.

“The plain fact is that these are unrelated matters,” Beckman said in the statement. “In countless hours of conversations involving the establishment of our Shanghai campus, this matter has never come up.”

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