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China 25 August 2005

Authorities turn down request for defence lawyer for Ching Cheong

Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at the Chinese authorities’ rejection of an application by the wife of detained journalist Ching Cheong to engage a lawyer to defend him against charges of spying for Taiwan. The Beijing state security bureau notified his wife on 17 August that her request had been turned down.

"This flat refusal is yet further evidence that the Chinese judicial system constantly flouts the most basic rights of prisoners of conscience, foremost of which is the right to be represented by a lawyer and to receive visits," the press freedom organisation said.

The Hong Kong-based correspondent of Singapore’s Straits Times daily newspaper, Ching faces the possibility of life imprisonment. No date has yet been announced for his trial.

According to the official news agency Xinhua, the spying charge was formally brought by the Chinese state security bureau against Ching on 5 August. Arrested on 22 April in Guangzhou, Ching is accused of selling economic, political and military information to Taiwanese agents for millions of dollars since 2000.

Aged 55, Ching had gone to Guangzhou to recover documents concerning former Communist Party leader Zhao Ziyang, who died in January. At the time of his death, Zhao was still under house for negotiating with pro-democracy proteste

sign the international appeal for Ching Cheong

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