Chen Guangcheng

NYU drops claim friend of Chen Guangcheng tried to spy on dissident

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 December, 2013, 9:27pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 December, 2013, 9:27pm

New York University has withdrawn its claim that a close supporter of Chen Guangcheng, a dissident affiliated with the university until this summer, had tried to spy on Chen by giving him an iPad and iPhone loaded with hidden spyware, saying it was a "misunderstanding".

The spyware claims followed Chen's accusation in June that NYU was making him leave as a result of pressure from China's government.

NYU said Chen, who arrived at the university in May last year after escaping house arrest in China and seeking refuge at the US embassy in Beijing, was mistaken. It was able to point to prior public statements that Chen's position as a visiting scholar was only intended to last a year.

Chen left the university this summer.

A few days after Chen's accusation against NYU, Reuters reported that several of Chen's NYU colleagues believed that Bob Fu , a pastor and a religious-freedom activist who is one of Chen's closest supporters, attempted to spy on Chen.

The NYU colleagues said they believed that Fu gave Chen an iPad and iPhone that were purposefully loaded with hidden software allowing Fu to secretly track Chen's communications and movements.

Fu denied the charge. The parties in the dispute now say it was all a misunderstanding.

Chen, a blind, self-taught lawyer, exposed forced abortions and sterilisations in his native Shandong before his imprisonment by local authorities.

In October, he said he had moved on to three new joint affiliations, including one with the Witherspoon Institute, a conservative research group in Princeton, New Jersey, and another with the Catholic University of America in Washington.