(Chengdu, Sichuan—Nov. 11, 2019) Authorities in China’s Sichuan province fired the lawyer of Pastor Wang Yi on Wednesday.
Wang Yi, who heads up Early Rain Covenant Church, was taken into custody on Dec. 9, 2018. On that night, officials swept up around 100 of the church’s members and seized another 50 within a week.
Wang was later charged with “inciting subversion of state power” and “illegal business operations.”
On June 6, Wang’s lawyer, Zhang Peihong, said a prosecutor called him and informed him that he would not be allowed to serve as Wang’s defense. The official said Zhang had too many ties with Wang and his church.
However, when Zhang met with Wang the week before, Wang seemed uncertain as to whether or not he wanted to fire Zhang. This led Zhang to believe authorities pressured Wang to fire him.
Wang’s wife was asked to appoint a state-approved lawyer for her husband. She refused, saying she wanted to consult Wang’s parents.
Soon, the case’s investigation period will come to an end, and the case will advance to the prosecution stage. Zhang said it is “very likely” that the authorities will appoint their own lawyers for Wang. Otherwise, they will force him to go through his trial without representation.