Filipino priest released after being charged with proselytizing

A Filipino priest has been released from detention after being indicted for proselytizing, the Philippine Embassy said Thursday.

The Rev. Fernando Alconga was arrested Nov. 12 outside the al-Bustan shopping mall in Dubai.

"He was charged with proselytizing, but was released into the custody of his lawyer on Tuesday," the Philippine consul-general Jose Ampeso told The Associated Press.

Ampeso said Alconga would stand trial at an undetermined date. His passport has been confiscated.

There are conflicting reports on what Alconga was doing when he was arrested. International Christian Concern, a Pennsylvania-based rights group, says he was asleep in his car outside the mall and that undercover police encouraged him to show them his supply of Christian material.

Dubai police say Alconga was arrested while distributing leaflets and brochures promoting Christianity.

Alconga, who was not available for comment Thursday, belongs to the Redeemer and King Filipino Church of Ras al-Khaima, one of the seven constituent emirates of the United Arab Emirates.

It is illegal to promote religions other than Islam in the Emirates, which has many Christian churches, Hindu temples and other non-Muslim houses of worship. Members of other religions can practice their faith but not try to convert people.