Yu Jie, author of 34 books, including many critical of the Chinese government, has been in exile in the US state of Virginia for four months now.
Yu says his long-time friend and fellow democracy advocate, Chen Guangcheng, may have been unaware of the danger he faced in leaving the US embassy in Beijing.
In a situation similar to that described by Chen to Al Jazeera, Yu says he was arrested by Chinese authorities a day before democracy activist Liu Shiao Bo - of whom Yu had penned a biography - was to receive his Nobel Peace Prize.
Yu says upon his arrest, surveillance and torture became part of his daily life.
Al Jazeera's Tom Ackerman spoke to Yu in Herndon, Virginia, where he lives with his wife.