Lawyers try to see China activist's jailed nephew

BEIJING (AP) — A Shanghai lawyer said Wednesday he is trying to visit the jailed nephew of activist Chen Guangcheng, who sparked a diplomatic crisis last month when he fled into the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

Si Weijiang said he was trying to get permission from police to visit his client, Chen Kegui. It would be the first time a lawyer has been able to meet with Chen Kegui since he was detained in Shandong province's Linyi city last month.

Si said he and another lawyer, Ding Xikui, have written permission from Chen Kegui's family to represent him and there should be no legal impediment to their visit.

Other lawyers who have tried to take up Chen Kegui's case say they have been threatened or been unable to renew their legal licenses.

Chen Kegui, 32, is accused of attempted homicide related to a clash he had with local officials who stormed his house after discovering his uncle had fled house arrest.

Chen Kegui allegedly hacked at local officials with knives. Chen Guangcheng says Chen Kegui was defending himself after being brutally beaten. Chen said Sunday that his nephew was beaten so badly in the clash that his pants were shredded.

Chen's flight from abusive house arrest in Shandong and into the protection of U.S. diplomats — which led to an agreement with Beijing to let him study in the U.S. accompanied by his wife and children — has exposed the impunity of local officials and embarrassed the central government.

A blind, self-taught legal activist, Chen gained recognition for crusading for the disabled and fighting against forced abortions in his rural community. But he angered local officials and was convicted in 2006 on what his supporters say were fabricated charges. After serving four years in prison, he then faced an abusive and illegal house arrest.