The U.S. State Department has confirmed that Chinese human rights activist and writer Lu Haitao and his wife are now in the United States, while refusing to say whether the couple have been granted political asylum after fleeing China in early December.
Responding Thursday to a VOA reporter's question about Lu, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said "we don't confirm or deny asylum issues."
Details of Lu's journey remain sketchy. But Chinese activist Hu Jia confirmed to VOA that Lu and his wife did not return in early December to Beijing from vacation in Taiwan. Hu said the couple arrived in the United States days later with the assistance of the State Department.
The couple are currently living in the Washington, D.C. area and refusing interviews with reporters.
The human rights organization Amnesty International reported in June 2012 that Lu was evicted from his Beijing home shortly after visiting relatives of noted activist Chen Guangcheng. Lu later was reported to have undergone intense police interrogation linked to his support for Chen.
Months earlier, Lu was placed under legal detention after displaying banners supporting Chen, whose high-profile escape last year from Chinese custody in eastern Shandong province to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing was widely reported.
The Chen standoff was resolved when China eventually allowed the blind activist to apply to study abroad. Chen and his wife now live in New York City.