Activist Chen Guangcheng calls Chinese justice system "farcical," alleges retaliation against family

Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng speaks to the media upon arriving on the campus of New York University May 19, 2012, in New York City.
Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng speaks to the media upon arriving on the campus of New York University May 19, 2012, in New York City.
Getty Images

(CBS News) Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, the blind lawyer whose escape from house arrest sparked a weeks-long diplomatic standoff between China and the United States, called his homeland's judicial system "farcical" and revealed new details about the alleged retaliation against his family still in China in a New York Times op-ed piece published Wednesday.

The standoff surrounding Chen came to a resolution when China allowed him and his family to leave for New York, where he's studying as a fellow at New York University School of Law. In the op-ed, translated from Chinese to English, Chen reaffirms he won't apply for political asylum, preserving his right to return to China.

Blind China activist's brother returns to village
Blind activist's family faces retaliation in China
Chinese activist's influence could wane in U.S.

While Chen's influence China may weaken in the meantime in with his arrival the United States, the op-ed shows he will continue trying to pressure China to make reforms. He's expected to speak at the Council on Foreign Relations Thursday.

In the op-ed, Chen called on the Chinese government and the Communist Party to fulfill its promise to investigate the treatment against him since 2005, which includes periods of house arrest, "farcical" trials, in which he writes he wasn't allowed to seek counsel or call witnesses in his defense, and imprisonment.

"China does not lack laws, but the rule of law," Chen wrote. "As a result, those who handled my case were able to openly flout the nation's laws in many ways for many years."

Chen also revealed new details of the arrest of his nephew, Chen Kegui, in the aftermath of Chen's escape from house arrest in April to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

"A furious pack of thugs -- not one in uniform, bearing no search or arrest warrants and refusing to identify themselves -- scaled the wall of my brother Guangfu's farmhouse in the dead of night, smashed through the doors and brutally assaulted my brother," Chen wrote.

The men returned two other times and allegedly beat Chen's sister-in-law and Chen Kegui with pickax handles, Chen wrote. After Chen's nephew stabbed three of the attackers non-fatally with a kitchen knife, he was arrested and charged with attempted homicide.

Since then, Chen Kegui has been denied independent legal counsel and forced to accept representation by "government-controlled" lawyers, Chen wrote. Considering Chen's opinion of China's judicial system, Chen Kegui chances in court seem dim.

"Cases of any significance," Chen wrote, "are controlled at every level of the judicial system by a Communist Party political-legal committee, rather than by legal officials."

Click here to read the full op-ed piece

  • Alex Sundby

    Alex Sundby is an associate news editor for

The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App