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World News

Chinese Pastor released from prison

Elder Li Yingqiang from Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) in Sichuan was taken into custody on 9th December 2018 for "stirring up trouble and "running an illegal business".

In a message sent via social media on Sunday, Li's wife Zhang Xinyue said: "Thank you my friends, family, brothers and sisters! Thank you for walking with my family through different means in the past eight months. May God greatly bless you. I love you all!"

Although many previously detained members of ERCC have been released on bail over the past eight months, Pastor Wang Yi, Qin Derfu, and Gou Zhongshan still remain in custody with the authorities.

Pastor Wang's wife was among those arrested in December for inciting subversion where she remained separated from her son for six months before being released in June.

ERCC has released an emergency statement regarding Pastor Wang Yi's defence lawyers following concerns that the detained Pastor was being denied access to a fair legal team and being penalised for his Christian beliefs.

The statement said: "We have recently learned, through various channels, that Chengdu authorities intend to disregard the attorneys appointed by Pastor Wang Yi and his family members and to appoint and authorise other attorneys (including Christian attorneys) to defend him against his will.

It went on to say: "We strongly oppose the government's actively or passively appointing attorneys for Pastor Wang Yi (regardless of whether they are Christians), especially seeing that Pastor Wang Yi and his mother have already appointed attorneys to represent him. Even if his self-appointed attorneys are not able to represent him in this case, we would rather Pastor Wang Yi present his defence himself. We do not approve of any actions taken in his defence by state-appointed attorneys."

The church has stated that it recognises Zhang Peihong, from Shanghai, and Ran Tong, from Chengdu, as Pastor Wang Yi's lawful defence attorneys.

Spokesman for freedom charity International Christian Concern, Gina Goh responded to the news, saying: "Praise the Lord that elder Li is finally able to embrace his wife and kids after many months of unjust imprisonment!

"While we celebrate his release, we continue to pray for Pastor Wang Yi, elder Qin Derfu, and brother Gou Zhongshan. They are still incarcerated and enduring hardships that we cannot imagine."

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