A longtime democracy activist who had joined bold calls for political reform in China left his home Tuesday for exile in the United States.

Xu Shuiliang, 52, was "another well-known dissident forced to leave China," said the Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China, a Hong Kong-based monitoring group that reported his departure.Xu was unavailable for comment. But a message left on his telephone answering machine at his home in Nanjing said he and his family had left and were headed to the United States. Xu, his wife and son were scheduled to arrive in New York late Tuesday, the Information Center said.

Xu was a pharmaceutical factory worker when he joined with Wei Jingsheng and others to propel the 1979-81 Democracy Wall movement in Beijing.

Xu was imprisoned in 1981 and served 10 years. On his release, authorities blocked him from finding a job.