May 19, 2012 / 5:48 AM / 7 years ago

Chinese activist Chen on way to airport, bound for U.S.

A handout photo from the U.S. Embassy Beijing Press office shows blind activist Chen Guangcheng (C) sitting in a wheelchair as he is accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke (R) at a hospital in Beijing, in this May 2, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/US Embassy Beijing Press Office/Handout

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has allowed blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng to leave a hospital in Beijing for the United States, a U.S.-based Christian advocacy group said on Saturday.

Chen Guangcheng told Bob Fu, the president of Texas-based ChinaAid, that he and his family were heading to the Beijing airport now, according to an emailed statement from the group.

Chen and his family “were informed to pack up and get ready to leave China” for the United States on Saturday, the statement said.

Chen could not immediately be reached for comment.

Chen Guangcheng’s escape from house arrest in northeastern China last month and subsequent refuge in the U.S. embassy caused huge embarrassment for China, and led to a serious diplomatic rift between the two superpowers while U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was visiting Beijing.

Editing by Daniel Magnowski

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