BEIJING (AP) — A blind Chinese activist whose escape from a rural village set off a diplomatic tussle between Beijing and Washington says he is at an airport waiting to leave for the United States.

Chen Guangcheng told The Associated Press that he has left the hospital where he’d been staying and is at the Beijing airport. He expects to leave for the U.S. later Saturday.

He says his wife and two children are with him, but that they do not yet have their passports. Also with him are hospital and border control staff.

Chen escaped illegal house arrest in his rural town last month and sought the protection of U.S. diplomats. He had been awaiting permission to travel to the U.S. to study.

The State Department has said U.S. visas for Chen, his wife and children are ready for them to travel to America.