Chinese Pastor Jailed Three Months in Israel for Smuggling, Explains After Release

( [email protected] ) Mar 02, 2010 01:52 PM EST

The director of a Hong Kong-based Christian ministry that has been leading tours to Israel had been jailed for three months by Israeli authorities on the charge of smuggling and was released early last month.

According to Hong Kong media reports, Rev. (Boaz) Chi-Kwong Li, executive director of Holy Land Resources Center, was arrested at the Tele Aviv Airport on Dec. 6, 2009, when Israeli customs officials found 1.06 million dollar worth of unreported jewelries. He was then sentenced to a three month confinement and fined $30,000.

Because of his good behavior, Li was released early on Feb. 10, 2010 and has now returned to Hong Kong.

According to reports, Li admitted that he had smuggled items such as diamond jewelries, etc. up to 15 times and sold them at stores in Bethlehem. In his explanation, he was asked by a trusted friend who has frequently helped the poor to carry these dutiable merchandizes across the border, which resulted in his detainment.

In an interview with a Hong Kong-based Christian media Upwill, Li admits that he knowingly broke the law, but it is a common practice for travel guides to be asked to carry prohibited items across the border, and he emphasized that he broke the law with the intention to help the impoverished children.

Israeli authorities have prohibited his re-entry into Israel. Li is submitting a petition to relevant authorities, hoping that he can continue to lead tours in Israel.

Li has specialized in leading Christians to Israel for tours. He has studied extensively at Israel Holy Land Research Institute and has participated in work of Holy Land teaching for up to a decade or so.