Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng left the U.S. Embassy in Beijing on Wednesday after a deal was negotiated by his American hosts, despite concern over his ultimate fate in the hands of the Chinese government and uncertainty about the circumstances of his release. However, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing seems confident enough that they can ultimately file this episode in their "wins" folder that they have released photos of Chen's stay through the embassy's official Flickr stream.
In the carefully choreographed photo above, Chen clasps hands with Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for Asian and Pacific Asian affairs, while U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke beams in the background.
Here, Campbell gives the Chinese dissident a crushing bear hug. Campbell led negotiations for Chen's release with Harold Koh, legal advisor to the Department of State, after being dispatched by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, currently in Beijing for high-level negotiations.
While driving to the hospital where he was to reunite with his family, Chen reportedly called Clinton to thank her for her role in facilitating the release. While one senior administration official reported that Chen told Clinton he wanted to "kiss her," others have said he was saying "see her" in broken English.
In an interview with the AP, Chen claimed that he left the embassy only after he was told by U.S. officials that Chinese authorities had threatened his wife's life. However, Campbell insists that Chen left willingly.
Whether or not Chen will now be free from house arrest remains unclear. In an interview with Britain's Channel 4 from his hospital room, Chen expressed fear. "Nobody from the [U.S.] Embassy is here. I don't understand why. They promised to be here," he said.
U.S. officials say that Chen will be allowed to study at a university of his choosing as part of the release. Hopefully, the intense media interest generated by the case may help to keep him and his family safe.