(NBC News) Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng is under U.S. protection after a bold escape from 19 months under house arrest, sources told NBC News on Monday, a revelation that looked sure to complicate Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s looming trip to Beijing.

“My sources tell me that Chen is, indeed, under U.S. protection in Beijing.  Now we don’t know whether that means he’s actually within the walls of the American Embassy compound, or in a diplomatic safe house, but he’s definitely in U.S. hands there,” NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell said on TODAY Monday.

The United States has not given any public confirmation of reports that Chen, who reportedly slipped away from under the noses of guards and surveillance equipment around his village home in Shandong province on April 22, fled to the U.S. Embassy.

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