'The Bird Has Flown'

Chen Guangcheng's wife says authorities took their anger out on her after his escape from house arrest.

Chen Guangcheng, seated, is reunited with his wife Yuan Weijing (r) and children at a hospital in Beijing on May 1, 2012, after his escape from house arrest.

Blind Chinese rights activist Chen Guangcheng was thrust onto the international stage and prompted a row between Washington and Beijing after his six-day stay in the U.S. Embassy following a dramatic April 22 escape from 19 months of house arrest and official abuse of his family.

Chen, his wife Yuan Weijing, and the couple's two young children had been confined at their home in Linyi, Shandong since his release from prison in September 2010. Chen said that he had left the U.S. Embassy because officials threatened to send Yuan and his children back to that same environment.

In recent interviews with RFA's Mandarin service, Yuan described how Chinese authorities treated her after Chen had fled house arrest, or, in the words of Chen's supporters, after "the bird had flown":

"They took me away, took me to the police station for questioning. [They wanted to know] exactly what time Guangcheng had left, and how he had left, and with whose help. They searched our home yet one more time, then they moved into our home. They used our things for everything, to eat, and so on."

"They had big sticks and they said they would beat me to death, though they didn't beat me. But they actually carried the sticks around with them."

"They were very angry because they couldn't see Guangcheng anywhere, and they were going to get criticized by their superiors, so they took all their anger out on me. They never stopped swearing at me and insulting me."

"Every day there were large numbers of people in the courtyard of our house taking photos, and trying to figure out the route Guangcheng had taken. They increased the number of closed-circuit TV cameras in our courtyard to seven."

Original reporting by Zhang Min for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.