In the United States, Chen has spent recent weeks raising his family’s plight with members of Congress and human rights groups, but to little avail, and some advocates working with him have begun criticizing the Obama administration, which negotiated his release from China.
State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said U.S. officials support requests for medical or humanitarian parole for the nephew, Chen Kegui. “The U.S. Embassy and officials in Washington have reiterated our concerns with the Chinese government and called for Chen Kegui to be given immediate medical attention,” he said. “Ambassador [Gary] Locke is underscoring our concern with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today.”
Ventrell also said that the administration remains “deeply concerned by credible reports that local authorities continue to harass Chen Kegui’s family members in his home village.”
For Chen’s family, his nephew’s medical condition is the most pressing issue. Reached by phone in the rural village of Dongshigu, in Shandong province, Chen’s older brother Chen Guangfu said his son first told him he had been diagnosed with appendicitis in a phone call from prison on April 24. On Monday, he reported there were signs that his appendix was abscessed and suppurating.
Chen Guangfu said officials at the Linyi prison, in Shangdong, have denied requests for his son to be treated at a hospital but have sent him to the prison clinic, where treatment is limited to antibiotics.
Surgical removal of the appendix is the traditional treatment for an infected appendix, although evidence is emerging that the condition can be cured with antibiotics alone.
“The prison told me they have their own arrangement. They also said that they will transfer him to a hospital if he faces danger,” Chen Guangfu said. “But I have doubts about their treatment.”
In recent days, Chen Guangcheng has urged the Obama administration to disclose the terms under which he was allowed to leave China, accusing the Chinese government of ignoring its pledge to protect his family from retaliation and to investigate the local authorities that tortured and kept him under house arrest.
Ventrell responded at a recent press conference that U.S. officials had already “characterized publicly what we could about the negotiation.”
The recent harassment follows several high-profile appearances by Chen in the United States, including at a congressional hearing in April.