Chinese Christians arrested for 'spying' were probing demolitions

Special to World
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Chinese police last week arrested two Christians who were suspected of "spying on state secrets" after one of their friends was arrested for looking into China's demolition of numerous churches.

"They not only detained us. They also searched our home," one of the two people, Li Shanna, told AFP. Li was released after several hours of detention but her husband remains in custody, she said.

Li said she fears her husband will be convicted of the spying charges because of the search of the couple's residence. She said she does not believe her husband has done anything wrong.

The two Christians attended the same unofficial "family" church as did Liu Fenggang, another Beijing Christian who was arrested Oct. 13 in China's eastern Hangzhou city on charges of "spying on state secrets."

Liu was in the province to investigate the demolition of some 11 large churches, which had been systematically destroyed by Chinese authorities since July, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.

In Zhejiang, 10 small churches were closed and four torn down since September, according to a statement by the center. Another 392 temples were closed and 24 of those were destroyed as part of the Chinese government's crackdown on unofficial churches.

The campaign is aimed at stopping what the Chinese call illegal religious activities.

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