“When I lost my freedom to write totally, when personal safety could not be guaranteed, and after persisting for 14 years as an intellectual in China speaking the truth, I was forced to make the decision to leave China,” Yu said in the statement.
His comments and arrival in Washington come at a sensitive time for U.S.-China relations.
Xi Jinping, who has been tapped to be China’s next leader, is expected to visit the United States in the coming weeks. It is unclear how strongly U.S. officials will push him on the subject of human rights — long a sore point in relations between the two nations.
Chinese Embassy officials in Washington did not return calls for comment.
Yu met Wednesday morning with Michael Posner, the U.S. assistant secretary of state in charge of human rights, a State Department spokesman said, adding that Posner “expressed admiration for Yu’s courageous work.”
Yu said U.S. officials have assured him that they would try to assist him. He also plans to file a complaint with the U.N. Human Rights Council.
The day before the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for fellow dissident Liu, Yu was covered in a black hood and spirited away for three harrowing days, he said in the statement released Wednesday. Security officers stripped Yu naked, forced him to kneel, burned his skin with cigarette butts, bent his fingers backward and beat him until his body twitched and he required hospitalization, according to his account.
Yu said the officers told him that he was being punished in part for a book he wrote attacking China’s premier called “China’s Best Actor: Wen Jiabao.”
Yu said he was warned not to continue to speak against the government.
Instead, he said, he will continue writing from the United States. He said he is planning to publish a new book soon on China’s president, called “Hu Jintao: Cold-Blooded Tyrant,” while continuing work on a biography of Liu, authorized by the Nobel laureate’s wife, Liu Xia.