Shi Weihan and his family, prior to his jailing in China (China Aid Association photo)

A Christian bookstore owner who has been jailed since March is “hardly recognizable” even to his closest friends because of his deteriorating health in China’s prisons, according to a Christian organization that works with persecuted Christians there.

WND reported when house church leader Shi Weihan became one of the Christians in China who simply “disappeared” in 2007.

He later was tracked to prison, and although in January he was cleared of allegations made against him, he was taken into custody again in March and has been held there since.

Now a report from officials with China Aid Association said they have learned Weihan has been transferred to the Beijing Haidian District Detention Center and his case has been moved from the Public Security Bureau to the Beijing Procurator.

“According to personal acquaintances who have visited Mr. Shi, his health has degenerated to the point that he is hardly recognizable to his closet friends,” China Aid said.

China Aid Association President Bob Fu called the detention without charges and trial “cruel and unjust” and called for authorities to release Shi “as soon as possible to avoid adversity amongst the international community.”

Americans who want to express their objections to Chinese officials should contact Tang Long, the city of Beijing’s deputy secretary general, at a contact number 011-86-10-62362008, or Liu Jianchao, the information director for the ministry of foreign affairs, at 011-86-10-65963342, Fu said.

Shi owns a bookstore near the 2008 Olympics complex in Beijing and earlier had been accused of illegal business practices, including allegations relating to the production of Bibles and Christian literature. He was released in January on the determination there was insufficient evidence.

The 37-year-old father of two then was re-arrested on March 19 and has been held since.

An American friend, businessman Ray Sharpe, told WND at the time of the first arrest that Shi is a businessman who also works as a travel agent.

Reports have said technically Chinese Public Security Bureau forces are prohibited from holding Chinese citizens for more than two months without formal charges.

His attorneys and family members have raised concerns about his health because of his diabetes. Months ago, his lawyer noted Shi evidently was losing weight, following a visit with Shi in prison.

WND reported earlier on a “blacklist” of people and groups of people China was targeting specifically because of the Olympic Games in August. Those targeted include religious leaders.

The case involving Shi has gotten considerable attention at least partly because he is the father of a U.S. citizen.

Grace Shi, 8, was born during the family’s visit to the U.S. in 2000.

WND also has reported on China’s apparent crackdown on Christians and Christianity in advance of the 2008 Games, including the expulsion of more than 100 foreign Christians in China in just a 90-day period, the biggest assault on the presence of Christianity in China since 1954.


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