A leading human rights activist in China, who is blind, has disappeared from house arrest amid reports that he has escaped.
Chen Guangcheng and his family had been confined to their home in Linyi, between Beijing and Shanghai, since he was released from prison a year and a half ago.
He had spent four years in jail after exposing an official policy of forced abortions and sterilisations in his rural community.
One Chinese activist group based in the United States said Chen was far away, but was safe. A spokesman added that Chen’s wife, daughter and mother were still in the family home which had been surrounded by officials once they learned of his disappearance.
Foreign governments and human rights groups have criticised Chen’s treatment by the Chinese authorities.