A Hong Kong pastor "disappeared" in July and was secretly tried for printing Christian books and raising money for his church, according to an Asian Catholic news agency.
The Rev. Ng Wah, who is listed as a pastor in Kowloon, Hong Kong's northern district, has been in the custody of the Chinese government for more than seven months, a friend of the pastor told the English-language UCA News.
Wah's family and friends "lost contact with the pastor" and weren't sure of his fate until an "authoritative source" confirmed the pastor was in the custody of government officials, said Constant Kim, a friend and member of Wah's Christian Church of Chinese Ministry.
"It is political persecution," Kim said. "Some extreme leftist officials in Guangzhou did this."
The only official confirmation of Wah's fate was a trial list printed by Hong Kong's Chinese-language Ming Pao Daily, UCA News reported. The listing said Wah was the defendant in a case heard by the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court, where he was accused of fraud in raising about $15 million.
Another pastor, a Protestant named Lin Jingying, was also prosecuted in the same case, the report said. Jingying was accused of running a "house church" that was not registered with the mainland Chinese government, according to UCA.
The newspaper did not include the disposition of the trial, and the fates of both men remain unclear.
The prosecutions are evidence of a renewed crackdown on religion in China, according to Christian Today, citing the case of another Chinese pastor who was accused of embezzlement and imprisoned after he protested the removal of crosses and the destruction of churches in Zhejiang province.
Christian human rights lawyer Ni Yulan, who is wheelchair-bound because of torture at the hands of Chinese authorities, was denied a passport in March when she tried to leave China to receive an International Women of Courage Award from the U.S. Department of State, according to the BBC.