The blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng – who's at the center of a feud between Beijing and Washington – said China has agreed to issue passports to him and his family within two weeks, Agence France Presse reported.
Chen, 40, said that Beijing officials helped him fill out the passport application forms at the Beijing hospital room where he has been living with his family since leaving the US embassy last month.
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According to AFP, the move is the first indication that Chen will be allowed to travel to the United States since he left the embassy, where he was given refuge following a dramatic escape from house arrest, to seek medical treatment, on April 22.
Speaking by telephone from the hospital, Chen told the BBC:
"People from the immigration administration department have been here. We had our pictures taken and forms filled out.”
Officials said the passports should be ready “within 15 days,” Chen said, but no exact date was given.
Doctors told Chen he should avoid walking because of a foot injury he sustained during his escape from house arrest, the BBC reported.
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A legal campaigner, Chen spent four years in prison until 2010, when he was put under house arrest in the village of Dongshigu, in Shandong province.