(Morning Star News) – China Aid has confirmed with relatives of Zhang Kai that the human rights attorney was released on Wednesday (March 23) after his arrest in August 2015 for defending churches.
Zhang wrote on social media that he returned to his home in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region of China, on Wednesday, the advocacy organization reported. The human rights attorney, who had defended some 100 churches damaged by a campaign to demolish crosses in Zhejiang Province, was arrested on Aug. 25 just before he was to meet with U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, David Saperstein.
Terms of his release were uncertain. He had been sentenced to six months of residential surveillance at a “black jail,” where prisoners are held incommunicado at a secret location. On Feb. 25 he appeared on state television stating a “confession” that he had disrupted social order and endangering state security that many believe was coerced.
Zhejiang authorities subsequently charged him with “endangering state secrets” and “gathering a crowd to disturb the public” and criminally detained him, according to a China Aid press statement.
“I have already safely arrived home in Inner Mongolia,” Zhang said in his message, according to China Aid. “I am thankful for all friends who were concerned about me during this time and who looked after and comforted my family members.”
China Aid head Bob Fu said he was a close friend of Zhang.
“Zhang Kai is a bold human rights lawyer and a defender of the rule of law and religious freedom, and is completely innocent,” Fu said in a press statement. “I appeal to Chinese authorities to release other arbitrarily imprisoned religious leaders, human rights lawyers and defenders, such as those arrested in July of 2015, including, attorneys Li Heping and Wang Yu, church leader Hu Shigen, and pastors Li Guozhi (Yang Hua), Bao Guohua and Gu Yuese.”