Chen’s older brother, Chen Guangfu, told reporters that he had been beaten and interrogated by government officials for three days.
He said that more than two dozen men broke into his house and began to attack his wife and son, Chen Kegui, who defended himself with a knife and was subsequently arrested.
Chen Kegui has been charged with “intentional homicide” and could face the death penalty. He is being held by authorities in Shandong province, where he has reportedly been prohibited from seeing his lawyers.
Although Chen Guangfu was eventually released, he is reportedly still under close surveillance and prohibited from making phone calls or leaving his village.
His wife, who was also detained, is being charged with “harboring a criminal.”
Reports also indicate that Chen’s cousin, Chen Guangcun, was taken into custody with his son on April 28. No information on their current status is available.
Chen’s friends and supporters have also reportedly been targets of government retaliation.
Several of Chen’s supporters were detained during “investigations” by authorities in the days following his escape, including He Peirong, who played a pivotal role in moving Chen to Beijing after he had escaped, and Beijing-based human rights advocate Hu Jia.
Hu’s wife, Zeng Jinyan, is reported to have been placed under house arrest by authorities.
Other supporters of Chen have reportedly been expelled from Beijing, including Teng Biao and Jiang Tianyong, both lawyers who advocate for human rights in China. Jiang had previously said that he was beaten by security personnel when he tried to visit Chen in the hospital, resulting in damage to his hearing.
In addition, at least two of Chen’s other supporters have recently been told that their passports were invalid, apparently in connection with their ties to Chen.
"Over the last several days, several of Chen's relatives and supporters have been arrested and brutally beaten as part of the Chinese government's refocused retaliation,” said Congressman Smith. “They can't beat him anymore, but they are beating his relatives and friends.”
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“The Chinese government must immediately end its deplorable retaliation against Chen's family and friends who remain in China,” Smith urged.