XINJIANG, China, Dec. 7 /Christian Newswire
/ -- In a stunning development for lawyers and family members, ChinaAid learned today that 36-year-old house church leader Alimujiang Yimiti received 15 years criminal detention for allegedly "providing state secrets to overseas organizations," on October 28th
. Mr. Li Dunyong, one of the Alimujiang's lawyers, confirmed that he has already filed an appeal on Mr. Alimujiang's behalf.
Photo: Alimujiang Yimiti and his wife Gulinuer have two sons, whom he has not seen in over two years.
Mr. Alimujiang was held at Kashgar Detention Center for over two years without a verdict. He was first formally detained and charged on "suspicions of harming national security
" on January 11, 2008, by the Bureau of State Security of Kashgar. The charges were then changed to "suspicion of instigating separatism and providing national secrets or intelligence to overseas organizations or individuals" on February 20, 2009. He was tried secretly in the Kashgar Intermediate Court on May 27, on these new charges. The case was then sent back for retrial
. He was tried secretly again on July 28
, with the first charge dropped.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled the arrest and detention of Mr. Alimujiang to be arbitrary and in violation of international law.
"The whole case is about religious faith issues which are being used against Alimujiang for his conversion from Islam to Christianity, by biased law enforcement agents, prosecutors and the court," said Attorney Li Dunyong.
"The key for this case was the flawed "Certificate for the Evidence," verified by the Bureau of Conservative Secrets. In both form and content, the Certificate was questionable. It even had no signature by the verifier at the Bureau, which violates Chinese law."
"The 15-year sentence is far more severe than I originally expected. It is the maximum penalty for this charge of "divulging state secrets," which requires Alimujiang's actions to be defined as have "caused irreparable national grave damage." Alimujiang had merely taken interviews from media outside of China.
"This is the harshest sentence against house church believers in nearly a decade, " said ChinaAid President Bob Fu. "The whole world should be appalled at this injustice against innocent Christian leader Alimujiang. We call upon the UN and people of conscience throughout the world to strongly protest to the Chinese government for this severe case of religious persecution."