The US granted political asylum to the wife and children of jailed Chinese civil rights lawyer Guo Feixiong (郭飛雄), who the family says is suffering abuse, supporters said on Saturday.
Guo, who is serving a five-year prison sentence for “running an illegal business,” became well-known for his work on behalf of villagers who tried to remove a local boss of the Chinese Communist Party accused of corruption.
His wife, Zhang Qing (張青), their teenage daughter and eight-year-old son sneaked out of China into Thailand in February, said ChinaAid, a US-based group that supports underground Christians.
The UN High Commission for Refugees initially rejected their appeal for refugee status, but ChinaAid’s president Bob Fu went to Thailand to intervene and arrange for them to come to the US, the group said.
The family found out on Thursday that US authorities had granted them asylum, the group said. They are now living in Midland, Texas, where the children have enrolled in school.
Zhang had become a target herself with her children were barred from attending school after she issued open letters to Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) and US leaders calling for her husband’s release.
In an interview with Radio Free Asia, Zhang said that her husband had suffered abuse since his latest arrest in September 2006, including having his hands and feet tied together to a hardboard bed for 42 days.
“I have heard so many times that he has been brutally beaten and that he has sustained injuries — this on top of the torture he had endured before,” she told the US-funded radio station.
Guo is one of a number of prominent lawyers and rights activists in prison in China.
The wife and two children of leading lawyer Gao Zhisheng (高智晟) — who has defended pariah groups such as coal miners, underground Christians and the banned Falungong spiritual movement — also escaped to the US via Thailand earlier this year.
Unlike during previous visits by US leaders, China did not release any dissidents during US President Barack Obama’s visit last week.
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