Reports: Chinese freedom-fighter Chen Guangcheng headed to U.S. this weekend; Update: arrived in U.S.

Late Friday night, Twitter lit up with news that Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng had left the hospital where he had been holed up and was headed to the Beijing aiport to fly to the U.S.

A reminder of what Guangcheng’s family suffered:

CHRD has learned that Chen Guangfu (陈光福), the elder brother of activist Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚), was reportedly tortured while in the hands of Yinan County police in Shandong Province in late April. He is still suffering serious effects from the abuse, according to a reliable source within China. The abuses against Chen Guangfu represent the most physically violent treatment to surface so far among the spate of retaliatory acts towards those with links to Chen Guangcheng after his flight from house arrest. In addition to the reported torture, it is believed that Linyi authorities are maintaining tight controls over many of Chen Guangcheng’s other relatives, with their movements strictly limited as they live in a state of extreme fear.

In the early morning of April 27, Zhang Jian (张健), a head of Shuanghou Township (that has jurisdiction over Dongshigu Village), and accompanying thugs climbed over the wall to Chen Guangfu’s home and banged on the front door, eventually seizing Chen and blindfolding him before dragging him away. Chen was taken to the Yinan County Public Security Bureau, where he was questioned mainly about how Chen Guangcheng escaped—and subjected to several hours of torture. Authorities handcuffed Chen Guangfu and shackled his legs, slapped him, and then whipped his hands with a leather belt, struck him in the ribs, and stomped hard on his toes. At this time—nearly three weeks later—Chen still reportedly has not regained any feeling in the area stretching from his left thumb through his wrist, and his right foot also remains numb.

We’ll update with developments throughout the weekend.

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Update 3:23am -

Update 7:30am -

Update 3:15pm -

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Update 6:31pm -

Chen Guangcheng and his family arrive in the United States.

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Previous Twitchy coverage:

Chen Guangcheng calls into Congressional hearing, fears for his family; Update: Actor Christian Bale offers help

Romney calls Obama’s handling of Chen Guangcheng situation ‘dark day for freedom’

House holds emergency hearing on Chen Guangcheng; Obama ducking; Update: Chen Guangcheng calls into hearing, fears for family

Obama administration obfuscates on helping Chen Guangcheng, says still ‘evolving’; Update: Hillary Clinton ignores plea

Obama/Clinton face Twitter outcry over Chen Guangcheng

Friend of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng tweets about China’s threats to family

Gutsy call: Obama ducks question on Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, feigns concern about human rights

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