JANE PERLEZ & ANDREW JACOBS
Through talks with activists,and embassy officials,new details emerged Wednesday on Chen Guangchengs escape from house arrest.
Chen and his wife began plotting his escape months ago,friends and supporters said. Chen feigned sickness for weeks,tricking his minders into thinking he was bedridden. Then,on a moonless night on April 22,he began his dash from Dongshigu village,heaving himself over the first of several walls while the guards slept. It was during the first few minutes of his scramble that Chen severely injured his foot. In all,he told friends he fell 200 times as he made his made his way to a predetermined pickup point.
Once there,he called He Peirong,a freelance rights advocate,who drove Chen to Beijing. His supporters there decided that only the American Embassy could provide protection. It was decided that an official car would take Chen from his vehicle.
But as the two were about to converge,the Americans noticed Chinese security cars tailing them,a US official said. As Chens car moved into an alley,the embassy vehicle drew alongside,and the lawyer was pulled into the US vehicle. The Americans evaded the two Chinese cars and headed for the embassy,the official said.
Once he was safely inside a US Marine dormitory,American diplomats imposed an information blackout even refusing to confirm whether Chen was in their hands as they negotiated his fate with senior Chinese Foreign Ministry officials.