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Chinese dissident Chen to join conservative US think tank

Andy Jacobsohn | AFP | Getty Images

Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese dissident and legal rights activist who accused New York University of forcing him to leave this summer because of alleged pressure from the Chinese government, will be joining The Witherspoon Institute, a conservative think tank.

Chen will become a distinguished fellow in human rights at Witherspoon, which is based in Princeton, New Jersey, for the next three years. He will also be affiliated with The Catholic University of America and the more liberal-leaning Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice, Luis Tellez, Witherspoon's president, said in a telephone interview.

"We are taking the responsibility for the financial side and a home really where he can do his work," Tellez said, adding that Witherspoon will be responsible for the financial aspect of the arrangement among the three organizations with the help of two donors he declined to identify.

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"We're not asking him to do anything specific," he said. "The main point is he's a truth teller, he tries to tell the truth as he sees it." As Chen prepared to leave NYU this summer, some of his supporters argued over whether he was being courted or even manipulated by U.S. conservative and religious groups, which perhaps saw kinship between his work exposing forced abortions in China and their own more broadly anti-abortion views.

Witherspoon, which Tellez says is guided by Catholic principles, is best known for its articles and studies opposing abortion, stem-cell research and same-sex marriage.