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Gao Zhisheng

Prison authorities recently announced to the family of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng that he will be released next month. In a recent interview, Gao's wife, Geng He, shared that her husband's brother had managed to contact Shaya Prison, where Gao is being held, to request a visit. The prison authorities told Gao's brother that the detained Christian would be released on August 7th after finishing the required time in prison. However, the authorities did not respond to the inquiring brother's request to collect Gao from prison on his anticipated release date, explaining later that the prison needed to contact Beijing to work out the specifics of the release. Concerns remain about the degree to which the authorities will grant Gao genuine freedom in August, and whether his release will be subject to conditions or restrictions.

Gao is a prominent Christian human rights lawyer who is best known for his work defending vulnerable groups, including Christians. As a result, the government shut down his law firm and revoked his lawyer's license. In 2006, Gao was illegally detained by the police and later sentenced to three years in prison with a probation period of five years on the charge of "inciting to subvert the state power." In April of 2010, Gao disappeared while visiting his in-laws in Xinjiang. The following December, it was reported that because Gao violated the terms of his probation, he had been ordered to return to prison for another three years. (For more information on Gao's detention, please visit our website.)

Please pray that Gao will indeed be released next month and permitted to return home to his eager family members and friends. May his release be unconditional, and may authorities cease persecuting this brave man of unwavering faith. Ask God to continue to use Gao, whether imprisoned or free, to raise awareness for those who are suffering injustice and embolden the faith of other believers in China and around the world. Please also pray that religious freedom will soon be respected for all citizens in China.

For more information on China's persecuted church, visit our China Country Report.