BEIJING // The Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, who was allowed to travel to the US after escaping from house arrest, said yesterday that New York University was forcing him and his family to leave because of pressure from the Chinese government.
Mr Chen said in a statement that China's Communist Party had been applying "great, unrelenting pressure" on NYU to ask him to leave by the end of this month, though he did not provide details or evidence to back his claim. Mr Chen said Beijing's authoritarian government has more influence on the American academic community than is perceived.
"The work of the Chinese communists within academic circles in the United States is far greater than what people imagine, and some scholars have no option but to hold themselves back," he said. "Academic independence and academic freedom in the United States are being greatly threatened by a totalitarian regime."
NYU officials called Mr Chen's account puzzling, saying that his fellowship was meant to be a one-year position and had simply concluded as planned, and that school officials have been talking with him for months about what his next step might be.
Mr Chen, 41, who is blind, sparked a diplomatic crisis between China and the US last year when he fled to the US Embassy in Beijing from house arrest. Since last May, he had been a special student at NYU's US-Asia Law institute. He has been working on a book due out this year.
The NYU spokesman, John Beckman, said the conclusion of Mr Chen's fellowship had nothing to do with the Chinese government.
"We are very discouraged to learn of Mr Chen's statement, which contains a number of speculations about the role of the Chinese government in NYU's decision-making that are both false and contradicted by the well-established facts," Mr Beckman said.
Mr Beckman said that even before Mr Chen's family's arrival in the US, the fellowship he was to take at the university was discussed as a one-year position.
"NYU believes it has been generous in supporting this family, and we are puzzled and saddened to see these false claims directed at us."
The New York Post newspaper reported last week that NYU's decision was related to the university's development of a campus in Shanghai, though the university rejected the claim.