The Chinese foreign ministry announced on 31 May 2005 that Ching Cheong, the correspondent for the Singapore daily Straits Times had confessed to being a spy in the pay of foreign agencies. The official statement read, "Ching Cheong confessed : Following instructions from a foreign intelligence agency, he engaged in intelligence gathering activities in China and received significant a large spying fee." The management of Straits Times said it was shocked at these accusations.
The journalist’s wife, Mary Lau, told the press that her husband had told her he could be held for a long period. She also explained that he had apparently fallen into a trap set by an intermediary as he was trying to obtain recordings of secret interviews with former prime minister Zhao Ziyang.
The Singapore-resident journalist, who was picked up by Chinese police in Guangzhou, southern China on 22 April, is the holder of a British National Overseas (BNO) passport specific to Hong Kong. He faces a possible charge of "stealing state secrets".
Ching Cheong, 55, travelled to Guangzhou to collect documents connected with the former communist party leader, Zhao Ziyang, who died in January while under house arrest for negotiating with demonstrators in 1989.
Sign the international appeal for Ching Cheong