Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The pastor of one of China's most prominent underground Christian churches was sentenced to nine years in prison on Monday, the government said.
The Intermediate People's Court of Chengdu Municipality sentenced Wang Yi, the founder of Early Rain Covenant Church, to serve the nine-year prison sentence in addition to stripping his political rights for three years and seizing about $7,200 of his assets for what the government called subversion of state power and illegal business operations.
Chinese law guarantees freedom of religion, but the country has carried out a crackdown on churches, mosques and temples not registered with the state under President Xi Jinping throughout the past six years.
Wang and 100 members of his congregation, including his wife Jiang Rong, were detained in a raid on his church last year.
The parishioners were eventually released but Wang remained in detention amid speculation he was being tried in secret.
In a Facebook post on Monday, the church said Wang had not committed a crime and had always respected the separation of church and state.
"He has taught that even when the church is being persecuted, Christians should be willing to submit to the government's physical restrictions of them as well as to the deprivation of their property," the church said. "He has never said or done anything that amounts to 'inciting to subvert state power.'"