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Li-Heping-main_article_image.jpg
Chinese Human Rights Defenders
World News

Christian human rights lawyer kept in detention despite being spared jail

Campaigners have called upon the Chinese government to secure to immediate release of Li Heping and guarantee the safety of his family.

Chief executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) - an organisation supporting Christians under pressure for their faith - Mervyn Thomas branded the situation a "miscarriage of justice".

He went on to say: "He is yet to have been released despite the sentence having been supposedly 'suspended' for four years, and even if he is released, his safety, and that of his family, cannot be guaranteed. "

Convicted on Friday of subverting state power, Heping was handed a three year prison sentence suspended for four years, meaning he should have been released.

CSW fears he was tortured while he was held incommunicado after being arrested in the so-called '709 crackdown' on human rights lawyers in July 2015.

Heping had been defending the rights of religious minorities and other victims of human rights violations. CSW has been calling for Heping to be released since his detention.

In a statement translated by China Change, Heping's wife Wang Qiaoling - who has face significant intimidation herself from Chinese authorities - said: "They told me that I should be happy with this outcome, because 'your husband can come home.'

"You lock someone up and torture them for nearly two years, and now you come and tell me that this is the best outcome? Why didn't the family even know about the trial?"

Mervyn Thomas added: "We note similarities with the case of prominent human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who was sentenced to three years in prison with a probation period of five years in 2006, during which he was forcibly disappeared six times and severely tortured in detention. Li and his family may be vulnerable to similar treatment.

"We call on the Chinese authorities to guarantee the family's safely and ensure that Li Heping is released immediately."

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