Climbing over three walls and running through crop fields was hard, even for a robust woman like Yuan Weijing . But that's what she had to do this week to slip away from Linyi , Shandong province, for the first time in two years in the hope of saving her husband, blind activist Chen Guangcheng, from prison. 'As I was climbing the walls and running through the fields, I was terrified, anxious and yet very hopeful. I just hoped that nobody would notice me and I could get to Beijing soon so that I could exhaust every means to get Guangcheng out of the prison,' Ms Yuan said in Beijing yesterday. Chen, 36, was sentenced to four years and three months in prison last August on charges of intentionally damaging property and inciting a mob to disrupt traffic in 2005. But his family said the self-taught lawyer was innocent and the sentence was in response to his blowing the whistle on Linyi's brutal birth-control measures. Ms Yuan, 31, had to dodge government surveillance to make the 10-hour bus ride to Beijing to see her husband's lawyer. She also plans to discuss her husband's case with US, British and European diplomatic officials in Beijing. It was not easy deciding to make the trip, but she said she felt she had no choice after visiting her husband last month and finding him dispirited, with a shaven head and multiple wounds from beatings inflicted by fellow prisoners. He had been beaten for refusing to have his head shaved, she said. 'Guangcheng had been very optimistic, even after he was jailed, because he believes he is innocent and that he is not a criminal. That's also why he refused to have his head shaved, because that's a symbol of a criminal in China,' she said. 'As his wife, the sight of his bruises and the thought of him being beaten compelled me to do everything I could to shorten the time he'll spend in jail no matter how many risks it takes.' After arriving in Beijing early on Wednesday with her two-year-old daughter, Ms Yuan met lawyers to discuss the possibility of Chen serving the jail sentence at home. According to Chinese law, inmates who are not able to take care of themselves can serve their sentence at home. But the authorities have said Chen does not fall into this category, according to Ms Yuan. Chen exposed practices such as forced sterilisation and late-stage abortions by family planning officials in Linyi. His whistle-blowing cost Ms Yuan, the couple's two children and his mother their freedom to travel. In the beginning, they could not even leave their home in Dongshigu village because they would be beaten by officers stationed outside, Ms Yuan said. A connection with the outside world resumed only late last year when they were allowed to make and receive phone calls. Though Chen has not been back since he was illegally detained by the police in March last year, his presence is everywhere in the home. Ms Yuan has been wearing T-shirts bearing his image almost every day. 'I have two of them and I wear them alternatively at home. I won't forget Guangcheng for a moment. He was deprived of his rights after trying to fight for other people's rights. And now it's my turn to do my best to fight for his rights,' she said. The couple met in 2001 after Ms Yuan, then a bored and unemployed English graduate, advertised on a local radio programme for a job. 'He called me after hearing my advertisement and told me that I shouldn't be pessimistic. After that, I called and consulted him whenever I had some decisions to make. After a while, I decided to meet him,' she said. Inspired by Chen's passion for helping other people, Ms Yuan said she learned to care for other's needs by working alongside her husband in his fight for human rights. They began investigating the birth-control controversy in April 2005 after receiving a handful of phone calls from villagers, most of whom had or were planning to have two children. 'We knew it was a risky project,' she said. 'But it was hard not to do it when we saw how those villagers were eager to let others know their plight. 'There would be up to 30 people coming up to us. They may not have all been victims, but they were eager to tell us how they or their neighbours were taken away and locked in a house for so-called training ... at its worst, more than 100 people were arrested a day in Linyi [for violating the one-child policy]. 'After hearing their stories, we just thought we should offer as much help as we could.' Ms Yuan and Chen are theoretically not subject to the one-child policy because the government allows physically disabled people to have two children. But Ms Yuan said the government had asked them to pay a fine for their second child because their first was a son, now four.