Yu Jie, one of China’s most prominent Christian dissidents, sought exile in the United States after many months of being harassed and beaten, according to Reuters.
Yu told Reuters that the catalyst for harassment was fellow dissident Liu Xiaobo winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. "A few days before the ceremony for awarding Liu Xiaobo the Nobel Prize, I was kidnapped and several people stripped me and beat me to the point where I collapsed and had to be taken to hospital to be saved."
In 2010, Yu published “Wen Jiabao: China’s Best Actor” in Hong Kong and was threatened with imprisonment, according to the AFP. He told Radio Free Asia, “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.”
More on GlobalPost: China: Overdue for a people’s revolt?
Another prominent human rights activist, Hu Jia, who was only recently released from prison had two of his computers seized the day after Yu fled the country, reported the Guardian. Hu said his letter to the Nobel peace prize committee about jailed Nobel prize winner Xiaobo’s plight was probably what caught the eye of the authorities.
China was extremely vigilant about quashing dissent, fearing that the types of protests that swept across the Middle East in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya could spark a popular uprising in China as well, according to the Associated Press.
China is also gearing up for a leadership change, with Vice President Xi Jinping being groomed to take over as Communist Party chief, said the Wall Street Journal.
More on GlobalPost: China: has people power gone mainstream?
Yu – who came with his wife and child, but has not officially sought asylum – told Reuters he would recount the harassment and abuse he underwent in testimony before a US Congress panel, ahead of a possible visit by Jinping to the United States in the upcoming months.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said about Yu, "I don't know this person and I don't know how many people regard him as a famous writer."