Chen first came to international attention in 2005 for exposing the abortions and forced sterilizations of women in China's rural communities as part of the country's One Child Policy. He was sentenced in 2006 to more than four years in prison for likely trumped up charges of disturbing public disorder.
Upon his release, he was placed under extrajudicial house arrest at his home in Dongshigu. Chen made a daring escape April 22 from what he has described in videos released online as a brutal house arrest in Shandong Province.
The whereabouts of He Peirong, the young activist who drove Chen to Beijing, remain unknown. Sources in the dissident community say she was last heard from April 27 and is believed to be in police custody. The United States is urging China to take no retribution against people like He who helped him.
From a brutal and isolating house arrest where his voice was silenced, U.S. officials say, Chen will now be just like any other: A regular student, with an extraordinary journey behind him.
ABC News Beijing bureau intern Tina Chen contributed to this report.