WASHINGTON, March 7, 2013 (AFP) – Chinese writer and blogger Lu Haitao is now in the United States, a top US official said Thursday, refusing to confirm whether he has been given asylum.
“I can confirm that he and his wife are in the United States. As you know, we don’t confirm or deny asylum issues,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
It was unclear when Lu and his wife, Yang Lan, entered the United States and where they were, as Nuland refused further comment or to confirm a report that he had sought refuge in the US embassy in Beijing in December.
A Hong Kong paper reported in December that the couple were scheduled to return to Beijing from a visit in Taiwan on December 1, but instead turned up in New York on December 4.
Amnesty International said in June that the writer had been evicted from his home “most likely due to Lu’s ties to activist Chen Guangcheng.”
Blind activist Chen caused a diplomatic row when he escaped house arrest in his village in Shandong province in 2012 and reached the US mission in Beijing just at the start of a visit by then US secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
Chinese and American diplomats scrambled to find a solution and defuse the row. After initially agreeing to stay in China, Chen decided he wanted to leave for the US and Beijing eventually agreed to allow him to apply to study abroad.
Chen, who was imprisoned after exposing abuses under China’s “one child” population control policy, now lives in New York.
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