MANHATTAN — The Chinese activist at the center of a diplomatic crisis between the U.S. and China may soon leave the Communist nation to walk free on the streets of Greenwich Village.
NYU School of Law has invited Chen Guangcheng, a blind lawyer who took refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing last week after fleeing house arrest, to be a visiting scholar at the university, an NYU spokesman confirmed Friday afternoon.
"Chen Guangcheng has long-established relationships with faculty at the NYU School of Law and has an invitation to be a visiting scholar at NYU, either in New York or at one of our other global sites," university spokesman John Beckman said in a statement.
Chen, 41, is best known for charging his home province, Shandong, with forcing women to undergo abortions and sterilization in order to comply with China's one-child policy.
He escaped house arrest April 22 and fled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing days before the start of high-level talks between the U.S. and China on economic and security issues, the New York Times reported.
Chen has the Chinese government's blessing to travel, according to a statement issued Friday by the U.S. Department of State.
"The Chinese Government stated today that Mr. Chen Guangcheng has the same right to travel abroad as any other citizen of China," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
As a visiting scholar at NYU, Chen would "be working with our law programs and scholars," NYU spokesman Beckman said.