Blind dissident Chen Guangcheng and his immediate family have left China on a flight to the United States. They are expected to arrive in Newark, N.J., Saturday evening.
Their departure caps off three weeks of roller coaster diplomacy that reached the very highest levels of Chinese government and the White House.
The human rights activist is best known for his fight against forced abortions and sterilisations under the One Child Policy.
He served a four year prison sentence for what are widely believed to have been trumped up charges before being placed under a brutal, extra-judicial house arrest in his hometown province of Shandong.
Several media outlets, as well as human rights supporters in the U.S., cited late May as a potential departure date if all rules for passport applications were strictly adhered to.
But on Saturday, social media reports surfaced that said Chen had left the hospital. By midday, Chen spoke to the AFP and the Associated Press to say he was at the airport with his family and while he had no details, he believed they would be leaving that day.
State Dept Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed that Chen and his family left China so he can pursue studies at an American university.
"We are looking forward to his arrival in the United States later today. We also express our appreciation for the manner in which we were able to resolve this matter and to support Mr. Chen's desire to study in the U.S. and pursue his goals," Nuland said.
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