Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng - who was at the centre of a diplomatic crisis with Washington - is on his way to the United States.
The blind activist and his family boarded a flight to Newark, near New York, after being taken from a Beijing hospital to the capital's airport.
Mr Chen recently spent six days in the US embassy in Beijing after escaping house arrest in north-east China.
He has been offered a fellowship at New York University.
A White House spokesman welcomed news of Mr Chen's departure.
Mr Chen, a self-taught lawyer who campaigned against forced abortions under China's one-child policy, was jailed for four years in 2006 for disrupting traffic and damaging property, and placed under house arrest after his release in 2010.
'Leave of absence'
Earlier on Saturday, Mr Chen was picked up from the hospital where he was being treated for a foot injury and taken to Beijing airport, along with his wife and two children.