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New York University ends China dissident role

Institution says it had only guaranteed Chen Guangcheng and his family, who sought sanctuary in US, one year of study.

Last Modified: 14 Jun 2013 10:08
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The university said that it had only guaranteed Chen and his family one year of study [EPA]

New York University (NYU) has said it is to part ways with Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng who has been studying at its campus since last year.

Chen, a blind self-taught lawyer who angered authorities by exposing abuses in China's one-child-only policy, was allowed to move to the US in 2012 to study after protracted negotiations that followed his escape from house arrest.

The university said that it had only guaranteed Chen and his family one year of study "to get their feet on the ground".

"We could not see beyond one year at that point, but I have always made clear, and the university authorities agreed, that our US-Asia Law Institute would allow him to stay beyond one year until a better, more permanent, opportunity arose," said Jerome Cohen, Chen's professor and mentor.

"He now is in the process of choosing between two attractive opportunities," Cohen, a leading expert on Chinese laws on human rights, said in a statement released by the university. He did not elaborate on those opportunities.

New York University was responding to an article in the New York Post alleging that the school was letting Chen go to avoid wrecking its chances of tapping into the lucrative market in Shanghai where it is establishing a campus.

'Unrelated matters' 

Cohen rejected the charge, saying he "never heard a word" - even from Chinese diplomats - linking Chen's case to the Shanghai campus.

"No political refugee, even Albert Einstein, has received better treatment by an American academic institution than that received by Chen from NYU," he said.

University spokesman John Beckman said that Chen's situation was due to "unrelated matters," saying that the school would not have taken him in a first place if it had been worried about the impact on its Shanghai plans.

Chen is virtually certain to be able to stay in the US due to the high profile of his case, with US politicians from both major parties strongly supportive of him.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives and a longtime advocate of human rights in China, spoke to Chen about his plight about a month ago, an aide said.

"It is her hope that NYU will continue its generosity by allowing Mr Chen the time he needs to effectively make this transition," said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi.

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