Via The Hill:

Chen Guangcheng’s daring escape to the U.S. embassy turned into a major political headache for President Obama on Thursday as Republicans accused the administration of naively handing the blind human rights activist back to Chinese authorities….

Embassy officials say Chen left the embassy of his own volition to be reunited with his family and get treated for injuries sustained during his escape from house arrest. He now says U.S. diplomats pressured him to leave and that Chinese officials threatened his family.

White House press secretary Jay Carney pushed back at that suggestion on Thursday, insisting U.S. officials put no pressure on the dissident and that Chen did not ask for asylum while at the U.S. embassy.

Things were escalated when Chen phoned into a congrssional hearing today, via CBS News:

The blind Chinese activist who recently left the U.S. embassy in Beijing on Thursday made a direct appeal to lawmakers on Capitol Hill to come to the United States. Calling in to the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, dissident Chen Guangcheng told lawmakers he is concerned for the safety of his family and he wants to thank Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her efforts to help him over the past few days.

“I hope I can get more help from her,” he said over speakerphone to the two Republican lawmakers who were present.

The 40-year old lawyer had taken refuge in the U.S. embassy after escaping house arrest but was later released to a hospital in China.

“The thing I (am) most concerned (about) right now is the safety of my mother, my brothers, and I really want to know what’s going on with them,” Chen said through a translator.

Chen said he wanted to come to the United States for some “rest,” because he has not rested for 10 years.

 

 

Update 5-4-2012:  Problem solved? Chen will be allowed to leave the country on a student visa to study in the U.S.