Health fears raised for Chinese activist's nephew

A lawyer for the jailed nephew of Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng appealed for help from the United Nations on Monday, saying the prisoner risked death without urgent medical attention.

Chen Kegui, who was arrested a year ago in what supporters called retribution, is suffering from appendicitis and needs to be taken to a hospital as his appendix is believed to be rupturing, the lawyer said.

"In light of the life-threatening nature of Chen Kegui's illness, the denial of adequate medical treatment in this case presents an urgent threat to his well-being," wrote Jared Genser, who represents the prisoner pro bono for the legal advocacy group Freedom Now.

Genser wrote to the UN special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, asking him to submit the appeal to Chinese authorities "as soon as possible."

Chen Guangcheng, a blind self-taught lawyer, escaped from house arrest a year ago for the safety of the US embassy in Beijing. He was allowed to leave for New York after tense negotiations between the two countries.

Chen told AFP in a recent interview that officials targeted his nephew as retaliation. Chen Kegui was sentenced to more than three years in prison in November for assaulting authorities who descended on his village, in what supporters said was self-defense.

Chen Guangcheng had run afoul of authorities in eastern Shandong province by exposing forced abortions and sterilizations under China's one-child policy. He was jailed and later reported severe beatings while under house arrest.