A pastor who refused to align with the communist authorities in China has been arrested and charged with “subversion.”
Zhao Huaiguo, pastor of Bethel Church in Cili county near Hunan’s Zhangjiajie city, was formally detained on April 2, according to a report at Radio Free Asia.
Zhao’s wife Zhang Xinghong said police raided the family home early on the morning of March 14.
“The state security police came after seven in the morning … and took Pastor Zhao away,” she explained. “Then they held him under criminal detention on suspicion of incitement to subvert state power.”
Zhang added that she beloved the police were targeting him because “he had posted or forwarded something from overseas to do with the coronavirus epidemic.”
“They said something about circumvention tools for getting over the Great Firewall,” she added, referring to the communist state’s monitoring of the public’s internet usage. “It was something to do with the epidemic in Wuhan, with possibly something political in there as well.”
It is more likely that Pastor Zhao’s detention was a result of his refusal to be affiliated with the state-mandated protestant church of China; otherwise known as the “Three-Self Patriotic Association.”
Zhang explained how state security officers returned to the family home on April 15, confiscating many of Pastor Zhao’s church-related documents.
“They had a search warrant with them, and they said that hundreds of copies of church materials … study materials and photocopies were illegal,” she said.
Zhang also revealed that officials had warned her not to hire a lawyer from out of town, noting that her husband’s case would be fast-tracked.
“I kept thinking, you’ve detained him and now you’re telling me you have his best interests at heart?” she said.
“I told them this was unacceptable, and he said I could get a lawyer from anywhere, but that a local lawyer would be better for [Zhao].”
Pastor Zhao remains in custody at this time, though his exact location is unknown.
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