"In the end, this will be a humiliation for China -- that a human rights activist, a great man, someone whom we all admire, was able to escape house arrest, make his way to Beijing," he said. "That's going to put a big spotlight on the deficiencies of the Chinese system, on their outright violations of human rights and, I would think, in the end, this will be a defeat for China."
Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney said in a statement Sunday that he hopes the U.S. government will "take every measure to ensure that Chen and his family members are protected from further persecution."
Chen addressed Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in a video posted Friday on YouTube, detailing "cruel" abuses he said he and his family had suffered at the hands of authorities during months of heavily guarded detention in their home.
"They broke into my house, and more than a dozen men assaulted my wife," he said. "They pinned her down and wrapped her in a comforter, beating and kicking her for hours. They also similarly violently assaulted me."
Journalists and supporters were prevented from visiting Chen during his house arrest. One of those supporters is Hollywood actor Christian Bale, who was roughed up by security guards while attempting a visit in December.
Chen, 40, rose to fame in the late 1990s thanks to his legal advocacy for what he called victims of abusive practices, such as alleged forced abortions, by China's family planning officials.
A local court sentenced Chen to four years and three months in prison in 2006 on charges of damaging property and "organizing a mob to disturb traffic" in a protest, charges that his supporters called preposterous.
Since his September 2010 release from prison, he had been confined to his home along with his wife, mother and daughter.
Chen's escape appears to have angered local officials holding him captive, with supporters saying that at least four members of his family have been detained.
In the YouTube video, the blind activist appealed to the Chinese premier to investigate his case and expressed concern about the welfare of his wife, mother and daughter.
"Although I'm free, my worries are only deepening," he said. "They have been persecuting my family for a long time, and my escape would only prompt them into a mode of revenge."
The authorities' reaction also seems to have ensnared Chen's supporters, especially those suspected of aiding his escape.
After speaking to CNN, Hu was taken away by police for questioning, his wife posted on Twitter.
Chen's friend He Peirong disappeared Friday, shortly after speaking to CNN and other news organizations about the blind activist's escape.
The last message she sent out, according to ChinaAid's Fu, was that state security agents had arrived at her home in the eastern city of Nanjing.
"I'm not concerned about my own safety," she told CNN. "I hope they'll arrest me, not my friends."