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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

May 21, 2012 - 12:03 pm

A congressman who has been a strong advocate for Chinese human-rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng said today that agents of the People’s Republic may try to hurt Chen on American soil.

Chen, his wife and two children arrived in the United States over the weekend, touching down in Newark. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) was at the airport to greet him.

“He looked very weak. His ankle was broken in the escape. Totally jet lagged. Had a little car sickness,” Smith said on CNN. “You know, he is going to have to have some time to heal and recuperate because he has been through a trauma both physically and emotionally as well as his wife and children. And his extended family as we all know who are still at grave risk. They’re being retaliated against.”

Smith was asked how safe Chen is in the United States.

“You know, we’ve learned from the Falun Gong and many dissidents who finally got here and got asylum or protection that they are tracked, followed, harassed. There will have to be an extra layer of protection,” he said.

“I think the New York University might be on the short term sufficient but I think it has to be watched carefully, because they do things like car crashes or something happens that is made to look like an accident. So we have to keep a very, very sharp focus.”

Smith said he believes the chance that Chen will choose to go back to China after getting his law degree is “very slim.”

“If he goes back that target on his back that is already there here, because the Chinese government very aggressively foments following and harassing people who speak up for human rights even in this country, especially if they’re Chinese,” the congressman said. “If he goes back he and his family will be — the crosshairs will shift toward him. Right now it is his family that every one of us has to continue our focus as never before.”

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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