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AsiaNews – Fr Li Suchuan, 40 years, and Fr Yang Ermeng, 35 years, were released by the Hebei public security forces on 21 November, a day after the American President, George W. Bush, left China . This was confirmed by sources of AsiaNews which however added that Mgr Giulio Jia Zhiguo had not been released.

The two priests have returned to their parishes in the villages of Zhoujiazhuang and Zhoutou, both in Jinzhou region. Fr Li and Fr Yang were arrested on 7 November, the day before their bishop, Mgr Giulio Jia Zhiguo, was taken into custody; he is the unofficial bishop of Zhengding.

The same sources from Hebei said the bishop had not been released as yet: at the moment, he is detained in a hotel where he is being submitted to a “study session”. This is the term used to describe repeated attempts by the authorities to induce the bishop to join the Patriotic Association. No one knows how long the “session” will take.

On the same day the Catholic priests were freed, Zhang Mingxuan, an unofficial Protestant pastor, was also released together with his son. The pastor is a known champion of freedom of worship, of human rights and of democracy. The two were apprehended and transferred by force to Henan on 18 November, thousands of km from Beijing , in anticipation of the visit of the American head of state.

Pastor Zhang appeared to be in good health. After his release he said: “I refused to take any food offered by the guards, but I shared the Good News with them.”