China has announced its decision to uphold a North Carolina pastor’s seven-year prison sentence for “organizing illegal border crossings” — a crime more commonly applied to human traffickers — despite his appeal.
Pastor John Cao, who along with a fellow Christian teacher allegedly crossed the China-Myanmar border last March, filed an appeal for being wrongfully convicted of “organizing illegal border crossings” in 2018.
After postponing Cao’s hearing several times, a court in China’s Yunnan province announced on July 25 it had decided to uphold the sentence, persecution watching group International Christian Concern reported.
The court was “surrounded by a heavy police presence,” according to China Aid, which also noted that Cao’s 83-year-old mother and his sister, along with their lawyer, were allowed to hear the verdict.
Cao, a U.S. permanent resident from Greensboro, North Carolina, and his co-worker, Jing Ruxia, were arrested after coming back into China from neighboring Myanmar on March 5, 2017.
The two men had been volunteering to teach at 16 schools in northern Myanmar which serve more than 2,000 students. Cao had been ferrying back and forth across a river that divides the countries for more than three years without pushback from either government.
Ahead of his arrest, Cao managed to throw away his cellphone into the water while on a raft returning from Yunnan province as part of his school-building efforts. His actions managed to protect 50 other Christian teachers.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett