Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng has made a bold escape from his heavily guarded house, and released a video addressed directly to Chinese premier Wen Jiabao. This morning he is said to be "under United States protection" but this is unconfirmed.
Chen, a self-taught lawyer who exposed forced abortions and other abuses under China's one-child policy, was jailed in 2006. Since his release in September 2010, he has been trapped under house arrest, with around 90 guards watching his village. How he escaped from under their noses is a mystery.
Speaking from a secret location, Chen detailed the horrors of his detention: harassment of his young daughter, and savage beatings that left family members with broken bones. His greatest fear, he said, was that his escape would provoke "insane retribution" on his family, several of whom have already been arrested.
It's another major embarrassment for the Chinese Communist party leadership. Their credibility is already suffering daily from the bleed of allegations linked to the downfall of the party's "rising star", Bo Xilai.
According to activists, Chen is now in the US Embassy in Beijing, but neither China or the United States has made any comment. If the US has given Chen sanctuary, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to China next week could be derailed.
For Chinese speakers, Mr Chen's full video is below: