The Hush Post: A Tibetan filmmaker jailed in China for making a film about the Olympics and Tibet has arrived in the United States after escaping from China, an activist group that campaigned for his release said. Dhondup Wangchen, 43, arrived in San Francisco on December 25 and was reunited with his wife and children, who were granted political asylum in the United States in 2012, according to ‘Filming for Tibet’, a group set up by Wangchen’s cousin to push for his release. In a statement late on Wednesday in Beijing, the group ‘Filming for Tibet’ confirmed that Dhondup Wangchen had arrived in San Francisco. “After many years, this is the first time I’m enjoying the feeling of safety and freedom,” the group quoted him as saying. “However, I also feel the pain of having left behind my country, Tibet,” he said.
Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader of the US House of Representatives representing California, tweeted ‘It is my honor to welcome Tibetan Filmmaker & former Chinese political prisoner Dhondup Wangchen to our San Francisco community. My thoughts are with him as he is once again united with his wife & children in freedom after so many years’.
Wangchen was detained in 2008 after his footage was smuggled out and shown at film festivals around the world and shown in secret to a group of foreign reporters ahead of the Olympics. He was later sentenced to six years in prison for “inciting subversion” through the film, “Leaving Fear Behind” which features a series of interviews with Tibetans who talk about how they still love their exiled spiritual leader and thought the 2008 Beijing Olympics would do little to improve their lives.
Wangchen had been released from prison in June 2014 in the Qinghai provincial capital of Xining but remained under tight surveillance with his movements and communications monitored, the group said.
“Dhondup Wangchen was able to successfully evade the authorities and flee from his home area in Tibet and then the People’s Republic of China altogether,” it added, without giving details. Asked about the case, China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing that she was not aware of it and the the Xining police declined to comment.
Qinghai, which borders the Tibet Autonomous Region, is home to a large ethnic Tibetan population and is also the birthplace of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.