A pastor in China’s coastal Zhejiang province has been released after being detained for four months for “gathering a crowd to disturb social order.”
U.S. based rights group China Aid said that Wen Xiaowu, the leader of a house church in Rui’an, was originally detained on April 25 with his wife, Xiang Lihua, and their eldest son, Wen “Eden” Yidian.
They were arrested after they contacted Shanghai-based U.S. diplomatic officials and foreign journalists.
His family believes it was “persistent, focused and high-level pressure” from the international community put on the Chinese authorities that ensured Wen’s release.
China Aid says that Wen still must serve six months under “residential surveillance.”
Churches in Zhejiang have been subjected to an ongoing cross removal campaign in which more than 1,700 crosses have been removed by the state since the end of 2013. Most of the affected churches have been Protestant but there have been reports this year that authorities have targeted churches belonging to the much smaller Catholic community of an estimated 210,000 people.