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Pastor opposed to cross demolitions released

Beijing (Agencies): Zhang Chongzhu, who protested against the government’s cross demolition campaign, was released on May 9. 

Zhang, the pastor of the Pyongyang Three-Self Patriotic Movement Church in Zhejiang province, had been detained since August 2015. 

He made a lot of noise last year when the government notified churches in the province that the crosses on their buildings would be removed. He sent word outside the country about the campaign and invited people to “stand in a circle and watch” as the crosses were demolished. Speaking during a radio station interview, Zhang said it was the only solution he could think of to find support from outside China and cause the authorities to check their actions.

However, his bold opposition to the cross demolition campaign led to his detention. He was placed under residential surveillance on 9 September 2015. 

In March, his wife, speaking to a radio station, said that her husband had been formally arrested on March 9 and charged with “stealing, spying, buying or illegally providing state secrets for institutions and people outside the country.”

Prior to his arrest, Zhang had been set to meet with David Saperstein, the United States of America ambassador-at-large for Religious Freedom, together with human rights lawyer Zhang Kai, who represented churches suffering persecution under the cross demolition campaign.

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