Chinese legal activist, Chen Guangcheng, has told a Congressional hearing that his family was beaten by local government “thugs”.

Guangcheng was jailed for campaigning against forced abortions and was later put on house arrest. He escaped last month, in the process breaking three bones in his foot. His brother’s house was raided after his escape where he was allegedly beaten violently, he told the House human rights committee.

His nephew was also charged with the attempted murder of an intruder. He then took refuge in the US embassy and asked President Obama to grant him and his family visas to the US after receiving “threats” on his family’s lives.

It was reported by the Financial Times that he didn’t formally ask for asylum. The visas are ready for Mr. Chen and his family. Mr. Chen will go to the US as a student and has been invited to study at New York University. Chinese authorities have yet to issue Mr. Chen a passport.