BEIJING (AP) — A lawyer says the pastor of a Christian church in central China has been sentenced to 12 years in prison following a dispute with local authorities.
Yang Xingquan said Friday that Zhang Shaojie of the Nanle County Christian Church in Henan province was convicted of fraud and of gathering crowds to disturb public order.
Zhang’s church is officially sanctioned by the communist government, which allows worship only in state-monitored groups, but has been involved in a dispute with local authorities over land for a new building.
Yang denied accusations that Zhang instigated disputes involving his congregation members. He said Yang is influential among Christians and was targeted by authorities who are trying to control the fast growth of churches.