Christian official fires lawyer, raising questions about government interference

Gu Yuese
(Photo: ChinaAid)


Updated at 2:48 p.m. on Aug. 1, 2017

(Hangzhou, Zhejiang—July 25, 2017) In one of China’s most prominent religious persecution cases in the last 30 years, the pastor of the country’s largest official mega-church fired one of his lawyers on July 16, triggering speculations that the dismissal may have come as a result of official manipulation.

Zhang Peihong, one of the attorneys representing imprisoned Chinese pastor Gu Yuese, received a notice on July 13 telling him to promptly arrive at the court at 9:15 a.m. on July 20 for a pre-trial meeting. Three days after the notification, he received a letter from Gu, in which he detailed that “the last thing I want is to get you involved because of me. I do not want you to lose your freedom for me. Therefore, you do not need to defend me in Hangzhou. I am very grateful for what you have done for me.”

A ChinaAid reporter reached out to Gu’s other lawyer, Xie Bingbing, but did not get a response.

One Christian suspects that authorities might have bribed Gu with promises of a suspended sentence in order to get him to fire Zhang.

On Jan. 18, 2016, Gu became the highest profile case of Christian persecution since the Cultural Revolution when the Zhejiang Provincial China Christian Council, a local branch of one of China’s two official Christian organizations, ousted him from his position as senior pastor of Chongyi Church, China’s largest state-run church, and criminally detained him on falsified embezzlement charges. At the time, Gu was serving as the chairman of the organization. On Feb. 6, 2016, the local procuratorate approved his arrest, and his ordination was revoked, along with his leadership and membership to the Zhejiang Provincial China Christian Council. He was granted a one-year bail term on March 31, 2016, but he was re-arrested on the same charge on Jan. 7, 2017.

Gu’s charge came as a result of his open disapproval of a cross demolition campaign that ravaged the province.

At this time, ChinaAid has yet to receive details on Gu’s pre-trial.

ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by Gu Yuese, in order to promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.

Gu Yuese’s letter to his lawyer, Zhang
Peihong, in which he fired him.
(Photo: ChinaAid)

Gu Yuese’s letter to Zhang Peihong

Honorable Lawyer Zhang Peihong: Jesus loves you! I love you as well!

Thank God——we can tread on the road of the cross together. I believe that God plans all these things. Hallelujah!

The Lord called me to become a pastor, so it is my responsibility to guide and protect my brothers and sisters of the church. Considering the current conditions, the last thing I want is to get you involved because of me. I do not want you to lose your freedom for me. Therefore, you do not need to defend me in Hangzhou. I am very grateful of what you have done for me. Of course, God knows.

You can contact Lawyer Xie Bingbing. She understands my case better than I do. However, only contact her if your security is ensured.

Best regards to your wife, Sister Wang.

Best regards to the co-workers.

I hope to meet you every day before God’s throne.

Take good care of yourself for the sake of Lord.

Jehovah Nissi!
Your brother: Gu Yuese
July 17, 2017

The court notice, which is
translated at left.
(Photo: ChinaAid)

Jianggan District
People’s Court, Hangzhou
Conference Notice
Zhejiang 0104 Criminal Pre-trial No. 1327
the defendant Gu Yuese’s lawyer, Zhang Peihong:
The court has decided to hold the pre-trial for Gu Yuese’s embezzlement case in
the 5th Court at 9:15 a.m. on July 20. According to Article 182 of
the Criminal Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China and the Supreme
People’s Court’s interpretation of Article 183 and 184, the attorney should
attend the conference on time.

July 13, 2017

People’s Court of Hangzhou (stamp)

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