A Chinese pastor who had been detained since December of 2015 has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison, according to his lawyer.
The sentence was given on Wednesday, according to a Radio Free Asia report, and Pastor Yang Hua was found guilty of “illegally possessing state secrets.”
Hua is pastor of Huoshi Church, located in Guizhou. He was arrested and detained on December 9, 2015, when police raided the church, and Hua tried to stop them from confiscating a hard drive, according to China Aid.
Hua’s lawyers have filed a lawsuit against the police, alleging that Hua has been tortured throughout his detainment. They have also defended Hua’s innocence.
“Even a day in jail is too much for an innocent person,” defense attorney Chen told Radio Free Asia. “I have only one thing to say about this. This isn’t a judgement: it’s persecution.”
“This is a political case that has nothing to do with the law or the truth,” Chen continued. “This is political persecution pure and simple.”
Bob Fu, the founder of China Aid, also released a statement regarding Hua’s sentence, calling it “purely barbaric religious persecution.”
“We urge President Obama and President-elect Trump to unequivocally condemn this brutal act,” Fu said.