He tried not to implicate others by initially claiming all the responsibility for the escape; but he said the interrogators seemed to know who had been involved so it was ultimately impossible to resist.
His wife, Ren Zongju, also described how officials attacked her son.
"They started fighting inside the house. So many people were beating him. His face was bleeding, and his legs. His trousers were ripped," she was quoted as saying. "He said to me 'Mum, I need to get out immediately'. We had 1,000 yuan... So I picked it up and gave it to my son."
The report is difficult to confirm. Journalists have been turned away from Dongshigu and neighboring villages. It fits with Chen Guangcheng's telephone statement to a U.S. congressional hearing earlier this week in which he reported a "pattern of abuse" against his relatives.
The blind activist is now in a Beijing hospital, where he is being treated for colitis and injuries sustained during his escape. Under a deal between the U.S. and Chinese governments, he expects to be given permission to study in New York. U.S. authorities say visas for Chen and his family have been prepared. The Chinese side has told him that passports and travel permission will be ready in 15 days.
"I am not worrying. For sure I can get my visa within two weeks," Chen told the Guardian on Friday. "My worry now is for my family. The local police have confessed that they beat [my nephew] Chen Kegui so his fight-back is just self-defense."
It is unclear which family members will be allowed to travel to the U.S. with the activist. Although his wife and two children are certain to go, an official said there were also discussions about whether his mother might join them.
Chen's mother is now 78, and suffers from arthritis and coronary heart disease. According to Chen, local officials previously prevented her from getting medical treatment and followed her when she went out to buy food. Now, she is free to walk around in the village and chat to neighbors.
The activist says he is in daily phone contact with her, but that she does not want to go to New York because she is concerned about those that would be left behind. "She is worried about my extended family, especially her grandson, my nephew Chen Kegui," he said.
A senior lawyer defending the activist described to the Guardian newspaper last week how he lost his hearing in a beating by a senior state security official after he tried to visit Chen Guangcheng in the hospital.
Intellpuke: You can read this article by Guardian correspondent Jonathan Watts, reporting from Beijing, China, in context here: www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/18/chen-guangcheng-brother-beating-officials