(Minghui.org) Two men from different provinces were sentenced to prison by the same judge on March 22, 2018, for their efforts to produce and distribute materials exposing the Chinese communist regime's persecution of Falun Gong.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.

Mr. Zhao Shanning is a resident of Ji'nan City, Shandong Province. Mr. Wang Lei is a resident of Bengbu City, Anhui Province. Mr. Wang and his wife were arrested first, around early July 2016. The local Bengbu police found an express mail receipt from Mr. Zhao while searching Mr. Wang's home.

After realizing that Mr. Zhao had mailed Falun Gong informational materials to Mr. Wang, Bengbu police traveled more than 300 miles to Ji'nan and arrested Mr. Zhao, together with their counterparts there, on July 15, 2016.

Mr. Zhao's wife was not home, but the police took Mr. Zhao away without any consideration for the couple's then-6-year-old child.

Mr. Zhao was taken to Bengbu for detention before being released on bail on August 11, 2016. Upon returning to Ji'nan, he mailed a letter in late 2017 to judge Cai Yuanli of Huaishang District Court in Bengbu, asking the latter to seek justice for Falun Gong practitioners like him.

Mr. Zhao was summoned back to Bengbu on March 11, 2018. The police had told him that they needed him to appear in court to get his “released on bail” status terminated. Mr. Zhao knew that he had been deceived when two officers showed up at his hotel room and took him back into custody.

Mr. Zhao, Mr. Wang, and his wife faced judge Cai together on March 22. They were not allowed to hire their own lawyers. The court-appointed lawyers were instructed to enter guilty pleas for them.

Cai questioned why Mr. Zhao wrote the above-mentioned letter to him. He sentenced both Mr. Zhao and Mr. Wang to prison at the end of the hearing.

Mr. Zhao was given 1.5 years and Mr. Wang 3.5 years. Mr. Wang's wife was released since no one was available to care for their two small children.

Mr. Zhao's parents, wife, and sister attended the trial. They are now helping Mr. Zhao appeal his case to Bengbu City Intermediate Court.