A Chinese human rights activist says she has been barred from leaving the country just as she was planning to travel to the US to accept an award.

Ni Yulan had hoped to travel this week to accept the state department’s International Women of Courage Award.

But she says she was refused a passport. She also alleges she and her husband were forcibly evicted from their home and he was beaten up.

Ms Ni, a lawyer, is known for defending property rights of citizens.

She had been due to attend the US award ceremony in Washington on Tuesday, and had applied for a new passport last month.

“When I went to get a passport I was told I was forbidden to travel abroad,” she told the BBC. “They raised my involvement in a criminal case in which I had supported the defendants and written some articles on their behalf.”

She said there was no legal reason for withholding her passport: “It was an excuse and a violation of my rights.”

Earlier, she told overseas Chinese-language news sites that Beijing authorities refused her permission to travel because of her links with a group of human rights lawyers who were arrested in July last year.

‘Beating’

She also said she was also told by her property agent to vacate her rented Beijing home. The agent said the police had put pressure on him to end her rental agreement prematurely.

On Saturday a large group of men – some of them wearing black uniforms – barged into their home and threw them out, she said, adding that they also confiscated money from her.

“Some of them started beating up my husband, another group rushed into the interior of our home and started flinging out items,” she told Voice of America (in Chinese).

“After beating my husband they dragged him out to the courtyard entrance where they continued to beat him and stomped on him with their feet.”

The couple have since moved in with a friend.

Ms Ni is known for helping a group of Beijing residents whose homes were demolished to make way for structures built for the 2008 Olympic Games.

She has been jailed repeatedly by Chinese authorities and uses a wheelchair – a consequence, she and her supporters say, of mistreatment by police over the years.