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May 3rd, 2012
11:23 AM ET

U.S. State Department criticized for their handling of the release of Chinese activist

A tense and sensitive diplomatic drama is unfolding in China this morning over the fate of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, who left the protection of the U.S. embassy in Beijing yesterday after the State Department brokered a deal with Chinese authorities over his future.

Chen now says that he regrets leaving the refuge of the agency and wants U.S. officials to help get him and his family to the United States.

Reggie Littlejohn, Women's Rights Without Frontiers president, has been leading the international effort to free Chen and she tells Soledad O'Brien this morning that she thinks that the U.S. needs to grant Chen and his family political asylum.

Littlejohn is critical of how the State Department has handled the issue, arguing that the "U.S. government wanted to get rid of the issue so that they could focus on trade talks," which began yesterday. As a result, Littlejohn claims that the U.S. has lost "a golden opportunity to be a knight in shining armor and bring Chen to safety."

Regarding the potential repercussions of this diplomatic showdown, Littlejohn asserts that the American government has "let down the entire nation of China" and caused "significant damage" to the United States' relationship with the Chinese people.

Filed under: China
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