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ICC Note:

Zhang Shaojie, a state-sanctioned church pastor of Nanle County in Henan Province, was detained in November of 2013 and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for fraud and “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order” on July 4th, 2014. The pastor’s lawyer said that the entire judicial process was illegal. ICC is closely following this issue.

07/08/2014 China (New York Times)- A court in Henan Province has sentenced a Christian pastor, Zhang Shaojie, to 12 years in prison for fraud and “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order,” charges that one of his lawyers called “untenable” and “without foundation.” The lawyer, Zhang Xinyun (the two men are not related), characterized the entire judicial process as “illegal.”

The lawyer said by telephone that he could not speak to foreign journalists — a stance usually rooted in fear of repercussions because of the political sensitivity of a case. “I can say a little bit to domestic media, but nothing to foreign media,” Mr. Zhang said. But he referred to an online post, from May, in which he had detailed the defense’s arguments to the Nanle People’s Court.

According to Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a nongovernmental organization, the court last Friday also ordered Mr. Zhang, 49, who had been the chairman and president of the Nanle County branch of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, a state-sanctioned Protestant organization, to pay a fine of 100,000 renminbi, or about $16,000.

The case against Mr. Zhang, which his supporters say was brought in retaliation for the pastor’s work on behalf of local residents protesting injustices, has highlighted what is perceived as a growing crackdown on religion in mainland China as more and more people join Christian churches. Recently, state-run churches have been demolished by the authorities or had their crosses removed, against the wishes of the congregations.

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