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A Chinese Christian lawyer who opposed a Communist Party campaign to remove crosses from churches has been released after seven months in detention, according to his social media accounts. Zhang Kai was held by authorities in August 2015, hours before he...

Christian lawyer Zhang Kai released in China

A Chinese Christian lawyer who opposed a Communist Party campaign to remove crosses from churches has been released after seven months in detention, according to his social media accounts. Zhang Kai was held by authorities in August 2015, hours before he...

Christian lawyer Zhang Kai released in China

A Chinese Christian lawyer who opposed a Communist Party campaign to remove crosses from churches has been released after seven months in detention, according to his social media accounts.

Zhang Kai was held by authorities in August 2015, hours before he had planned to attend a meeting on religious freedom with a US envoy.

He was paraded on television last month admitting various crimes including disturbing social order and endangering national security – the latest in a series of television “confessions” by human rights champions in China.

The purported confession was criticised by Washington who called for the lawyer’s release.

Mr Zhang represented dozens of churches which were targeted in what has been called China’s “anti-cross” campaign.

Officials have removed crosses from more than 1,200 churches in the eastern province of Zhejiang since early 2014. Many other churches have been demolished.

Officials have removed crosses from more than 1,200 churches in the eastern province of Zhejiang since early 2014

After he was held by security forces, Mr Zhang was placed under “residential surveillance”, a type of detention in what is known as a “black jail” in China.

He was subsequently charged with “endangering state secrets” and “gathering a crowd to disturb public order” and placed under criminal detention.

"I have already returned to my hometown in Inner Mongolia,” Mr Zhang said in a brief statement on social messaging app Wechat and China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo late on Wednesday:

He also thanked “friends” for their concern for him and for helping his family before thanking local police for their “care”.

Lawyer #ZhangKai reportedly released after 6 months incommunicado detention + tv confession https://t.co/Ar1JrWytQ0 pic.twitter.com/B19ACkcfEc

— CHRD????? (@CHRDnet) 24 March 2016

Bob Fu, director of the US-based campaign group ChinaAid, said he was “very pleased” to hear of the release of his “close friend”.

ChinaAid had confirmed that he was now free from detention, but Mr Fu said the conditions of his release were unclear.

"Zhang Kai is a bold human rights lawyer and a defender of the rule of law and religious freedom, and is completely innocent,” he added.

Additional reporting by Ailin Tang

Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.

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