Prison authorities have repeatedly pressed Gong to recant, beating him badly in the early months of his detention, and they have accused him of continuing to run the church from prison, his family members said. In 2007, he was moved to Hanxi prison to a cell watched by four guards and let outside only once a month. A year later, his privileges to make phone calls or write or receive letters were rescinded.
‘‘He’s not allowed to see other prisoners because they’re afraid he will preach to them,’’ said Du Tiduo, one of the longtime church leaders who traveled with Gong’s sister to Beijing.
The sister, Gong Shuzhen, said her brother’s stroke occurred on Dec. 2, and though the family received word five days later, it wasn’t until Dec. 10 that prison authorities allowed them to visit at the Hongshan prison, where Gong was taken for treatment. His daughter, Gong Huali, visited him again last Friday, and though his speech was clearer, the left side of his body still seemed paralyzed.
‘‘The Communist Party fears our teacher, like King Herod, feared Jesus,’’ Du said.