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BEIJING, May 4, 2012 ( – After being seized by police within hours after Chen Guangcheng’s daring escape into the U.S. Embassy late last month, He Peirong, the young woman who spearheaded his bid for freedom, has been released from detention by Chinese officials.

Peirong, known by many Chinese “netizens” as Pearl, was interviewed by the BBC following her detention, which took place after several high-profile international advocates consistently urged that she, as well as Chen, be treated humanely by the Chinese government. In recent days crowds of Chen demonstrators have been pictured holding up photographs of Peirong alongside that of the blind activist.


Peirong become known worldwide as the rescuer of blind activist Chen Guangcheng, having driven the car that brought him from Dongshigu village to Beijing.

In a Friday interview, Peirong said she had been kidnapped by Chinese authorities and held in a hotel for a week; while she was watched constantly, she also says she was treated humanely. Peirong said she was pressured to give information, but refused.

The high-profile push by human rights activists in her favor may have been a saving grace for Peirong, who has suffered beatings and imprisonment by Communist officials for previous dissident activity.

“I was very concerned [about my safety], but once the thing went public, I was no longer worried,” said He. 

“I am relieved and delighted that Pearl has been released – the day after the Congressional hearing at which her case was so strongly raised,” Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, said in a press release Friday.

“Some say that quiet, back door diplomacy is the way to deal with the detention of Chinese human rights defenders.  But human rights activists have found that high profile, public pressure is far more effective.”

Peirong compared Chen’s escape to the film The Shawshank Redemption, in which protagonist Andy Dufresne makes a dramatic escape from a high-security prison.

“Some birds cannot be caged,” she said.