Acclaimed Chinese author and rights activist Yu Jie vowed Thursday to continue his struggle for freedom in China, where he says he was tortured and deprived of the freedom to write and practice his religion.
"My decision to leave China marked an important turning point," Yu declared to RFA in his first media interview a day after going into self-imposed exile in the United States.
He said he had come under tremendous pressure since his detained "best friend,” Liu Xiaobo, was declared Nobel Peace Prize winner in October 2010.
Since then, "my situation deteriorated rapidly," he said. "I was subjected to torture.”
"For the better part of the past year, I was deprived of my freedom and under surveillance," said Yu, 38, who is also a leader of the underground Protestant church in China.
"I was even deprived of the freedom to publish overseas. I felt that, as a writer and as a Christian, I no longer had any freedom to express myself and to practice my religion. So I chose to come to the United States, where I can live freely," he explained.
Yu, who wrote a controversial book about China's Premier Wen Jiabao which was banned in China but published in Hong Kong, said he had visited the United States more than a dozen times before but had never wanted to leave China.
"Many friends often asked why I did not stay and instead always chose to return to China. I told them that I am a writer who writes in the Chinese language, and that as long as my life was not in danger, as long as I had even the slightest degree of freedom to write, I would insist on staying in China.”
But Yu, who had been repeatedly denied permission to leave China after being severely beaten by security agents in late 2010, said the pressure on him since Liu won the Nobel prize had become unbearable.
Yu then asked RFA to convey a message to his friends in China, saying he was "deeply grateful" to them for their concern over his well-being.
"I will be spending a relatively long time in the United States. I will not stop writing," he said, about his struggle to help bring freedom to his compatriots.
"I believe that living overseas, I will have access to more information and material."
"I will be able to write with a free spirit—free from fear. I will have the freedom to write and to publish. I believe my observation, studies, writing, and commentaries about China will reach new heights. I will not let my friends down."
Reported and translated by Jennifer Chou for RFA. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.