Dhondup Wangchen accompanied by his family meeting with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco, US, on January 15, 2018. Photo: TPI

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Tibet-Dhondup-Wangchen-US-Pelosi-2018San Francisco, US — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi welcomed Dhondup Wangchen to San Francisco at her New Year's Celebration on January 14, 2018. Dhondup Wangchen, Lhamo Tso and their children were able to meet her and update her on the current situation in Tibet.

Leader Pelosi said, "I want to acknowledge one newcomer to our country. His name is Dhondup Wangchen. He has escaped from Tibet in a very courageous way. He was arrested because he made a film about freedom and he was in prison for awhile. When he was released he made his way out of captivity to freedom. And now he is with us and with his family in San Francisco."

The meeting was coordinated by the Bay Area Friends of Tibet. Tibetan filmmaker and former political prisoner Dhondup Wangchen arrived in San Francisco on December 25, 2017, after escaping from Tibet. He was reunited with his family after 10 years of separation. Detained by Chinese authorities in Tibet in March, 2008 for making documentary film "Leaving Fear Behind", Wangchen was sentenced to six years in prison for "inciting subversion".

Wangchen was jailed a decade ago over a film interviewing Tibetans about their lives in a country where the government views them with constant suspicion. His film was smuggled out of China in the lead up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and he was later convicted of subversion in China’s Communist party controlled courts.

The 43-year-old arrived in the US on 25 December, joining his wife and children, according to Filming for Tibet, a group set up to advocate for his release.

????fter many years, this is the first time I’m enjoying the feeling of safety and freedom,” Wangchen said in a statement. “I would like to thank everyone who made it possible for me to hold my wife and children in my arms again. However, I also feel the pain of having left behind my country, Tibet.”

was a self-taught filmmaker from China’s western province of Qinghai who had spent five months in 2007 interviewing Tibetans about their hopes and frustrations living under Chinese rule. In his documentary, “Leaving Fear Behind,” many Tibetans talked about their love for the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and how they thought the 2008 Beijing Olympics would do little to improve their lives.