(Newsroom America) -- American officials are keeping safe a blind Chinese activist who sought refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Bejing, reports said Saturday.
Human rights activist Chen Guangcheng had spent 18 months under house arrest in eastern China but recently escaped, drawing international attention.
"When [Chen] first fled to Beijing, we had to keep moving him from place to place to ensure his safety -- and we agreed the U.S. Embassy is the only absolutely secure location in town," said friend and fellow activist Hu Jia, one of the few people who have seen him see he came to Bejing, CNN reported.
"I understand he's now in a 100 percent safe place and that place is the U.S. Embassy," said Hu.
The head of Texas-based nonprofit group ChinaAid, citing an anonymous source, told CNN that Chen is "under U.S. protection and high-level talks are currently under way between U.S. and Chinese officials regarding his status.
"Because of Chen's wide popularity, the Obama administration must stand firmly with him or risk losing credibility as a defender of freedom and the rule of law," ChinaAid chief Bob Fu said.
Chen addressed Chinese premier Wen Jiabao in a video posted on YouTube on Friday, discussing the "cruel" abuses he and members of his family suffered at the hands of authorities.
"They broke into my house and more than a dozen men assaulted my wife," he said. "They pinned her down and wrapped her in a comforter, beating and kicking her for hours. They also similarly violently assaulted me."
Chen, 40, is a self-educated lawyer who came to prominence in the 1990s because of his legal advocacy for what he described as victims of abusive practices, such as forced abortions by Chinese family planning officials.
A court sentenced Chen to four years and three months in prison in 2006 on charges of damaging property and "organizing a mob to disturb traffic" in a protest, CNN said, a charge supporters dismissed as ludicrous.
He was released in 2010 but confined to his home with his wife, mother and daughter. No one has been allowed to leave the house except Chen's mother, the report said.
© 2012 Newsroom America.