Beijing - China will prosecute the leader of what it calls a “cult” on charges of rape, fraud, sabotage and other crimes, state news agency Xinhua said, as the government deepens a crackdown on what it views as illegal and dangerous religious movements.
Prosecutors in the southern province of Guangdong are charging Wu Zeheng, founder and leader of Huazang Dharma, and several others after a year-long probe, the official Xinhua news agency said late on Wednesday.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan US government commission, says Wu and his followers are being persecuted for their religious beliefs.
Reuters was unable to reach Wu or his group for comment. It was not clear if he has a lawyer.
A statement on the group's website, which is blocked in China, appeals for international help for Wu, saying that he is a purely religious figure facing cooked-up accusations.