Brother of blind Chinese activist returns home: lawyer

BEIJING Sat May 26, 2012 12:27pm EDT

Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese dissident and legal advocate who recently sought asylum in the United States, gives an interview in New York May 24, 2012. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese dissident and legal advocate who recently sought asylum in the United States, gives an interview in New York May 24, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

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BEIJING (Reuters) - The brother of blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng who was reported to have gone missing has returned to his village in northeastern China, a lawyer said on Saturday.

The short disappearance of Chen Guangfu had sparked concerns he was the latest target of government reprisals against the family of the activist, who escaped from his village in late April after 19 months of detention at home.

Shandong-based lawyer Liu Weiguo told Reuters Chen Guangfu had returned to Dongshigu village. Liu earlier said the activist was "very worried" about his brother's disappearance and was contacting friends to look for him.

"Brother Fu is now home," Liu said, adding he had received a text message from Chen Guangfu on Saturday night.

Chen Guangfu had left his village on Tuesday and arrived in Beijing on Wednesday to seek legal help for his son who is detained on a charge of attempted murder. Friends and family had tried to contact him since Friday evening after it appeared he did not return to his hotel room in Beijing that night.

His son Chen Kegui, 32, was charged with "intentional homicide" for using knives to fend off local officials who burst into his home on April 27, the day after they discovered his uncle had escaped.

He could face the death penalty. His lawyers, denied access to him last week, said he did not kill anyone.

On Wednesday, Chen Guangfu had recounted to Reuters details of his own torture and reprisals by authorities since his brother's escape.

He said he was restricted from leaving his village, and police in Shandong warned him they would increase his son's sentence if he gave interviews.

Activist Chen Guangcheng took refuge in the U.S. embassy last month, where he stayed for six days and sparked a diplomatic crisis between China and the United States.

That crisis, which overshadowed a visit by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was finally defused last Saturday when China allowed Chen to fly to the United States to study.

(Editing by Nick Macfie and Sophie Hares)

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