Filipino maids are risking arrest by smuggling Bibles into the mainland from Hong Kong, union leaders and a cleric said yesterday. Their fears were voiced following news of the arrest of Hong Kong businessman Lai Kwong-keung, 38, who faces possible execution for allegedly transporting 16,280 Bibles to the 'Shouters' Christian group in Fuqing, Fujian province. Lai was also accused of transporting a further 16,800 Bibles to Fuqing via Shenzhen on April 1. He was arrested with two mainlanders, Yu Zhudi and Lin Xifu, both 42, on May 31 and later charged with using a cult to undermine law enforcement. One domestic helper, who asked not to be named, told the South China Morning Post she was about to join an excursion to the mainland before Christmas with members of a born-again Christian group. She said she had planned to take up to five Bibles. But the maid's employer refused to let her go when she heard she planned to smuggle the books. The maid said she knew several members of the church had gone ahead with trips in the past. She said group members believed the Bible was 'food for the soul' and that mainland believers would be happy to have them. A pastor of another born-again Christian group, who also asked not to be named, said he was against religious leaders asking domestic helpers to smuggle Bibles. 'Their work status would be put in danger. Also, sending the maids for a day is almost worthless, as they would not have enough time,' he said. The pastor said he had been taking Bibles into the mainland since 1992, and his church had members who were missionaries, professionals or visitors crossing the border each day taking in copies. Cynthia Tellez, executive director of the Mission for Filipino Migrant Workers, said: 'The domestic helpers are taking so much risk if they do that. They would be breaking the law on the mainland.' She said she did not see any reason to smuggle in Bibles as they were being produced on the mainland and distributed there by the Amity Foundation, a non-governmental organisation based in Nanjing. Exiled mainland human rights activist Harry Wu Hongda has added his voice to calls for Beijing to release Lai Kwong-keung. Mr Wu, executive director of the US-based Laogai Research Foundation, urged US President George W. Bush, who has also raised concerns on Lai's case, to join him and others to seek an end to mainland persecution of followers of groups branded cults by Beijing, like Falun Gong.