New York Times International
The New York Times

February 10, 2002

China Releases Bible Smuggler From Prison


HONG KONG, Feb. 9 A Hong Kong businessman convicted of smuggling Bibles into China returned to Hong Kong today after he was released from a Chinese prison.

A Hong Kong Security Bureau statement said Hong Kong officials were in touch with relatives of the businessman, Lai Kwongkeung, after his return. It gave no other details.

President Bush, who is to visit China later this month, had expressed concern about Mr. Lai's case and asked the State Department to look into it. Mr. Lai, also known as Li Guangqiang, was sentenced to two years in prison on Jan. 28 for bringing thousands of Bibles to a banned Chinese Christian group in May.

A fellow member of the church in China, Lin Junhua, said the church would continue to pray for the release of two mainland Chinese, Lin Xifu and Yu Zhudi, who were both convicted with Mr. Lai and sentenced to three years in prison.

The official New China News Agency said earlier today that Mr. Lai would be released from prison but placed under surveillance to receive treatment for hepatitis B. Mr. Lai was detained last May after bringing 33,080 Bibles into China for a group known as the Shouters.

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company