Jailed Chinese pastor facing second charge as six other Early Rain Church members seek asylum in US

23 July 2019

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Pastor Wang Yi, imprisoned for seven months in China on suspicion of incitement to “subvert state power”, is to face a second charge , of running “illegal business operations”, his lawyer said.

The lawyer attempted to see the Early Rain Covenant Church pastor in Chengdu Jail, Sichuan province on 17 July but was told by a prison official that he was not there. Fifteen minutes later the lawyer was summoned to see two public prosecutors who announced that the investigation against the pastor had concluded and he is to face an additional criminal charge.

Pastor Wang Yi, pictured before his arrest, has lost a lot of weight during his incarceration but his mental state is described as "healthy" by public prosecutors

In a statement posted by the church on Facebook the lawyer, who is not named, said the prosecutors reported the pastor had lost a lot of weight “but that his mental state is healthy”. They said it was “rumour” that his hair has turned white and his teeth were falling out.

Pastor Wang Yi, his wife, Jiang Rong , and about 100 other Early Rain members were arrested on 9 December 2018. Jiang Rong was released after six months’ in jail on 10 June. Her husband and four other members of the church remain in detention.

In Taiwan, six members of Early Rain Covenant Church have applied for asylum to the United States. Liao Qiang, who arrived in Taiwan on a medical tourism visa in early July along with his wife, daughter, son-in-law and two children, said they were concerned for the family they left behind.

"Now that the news of our escape is out, the church members and our family members are under pressure [from the authorities]," he said. "Police went round to knock on doors and take photos several times on the day [the story broke]."

"They were called in for questioning at the local police station," he said. "This has brought down a lot of trouble on people's heads."

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