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China 6 January 2006

Ching Cheong could be tried at any time now that his case has gone to prosecutor’s office

Reporters Without Borders today condemned of the transfer of detained Hong Kong-based journalist Ching Cheong’s case to the No. 2 people’s prosecutorial office in the capital, Beijing, where he is being held on charges of spying for Taiwan.

“The investigation of the case has been concluded and, technically, his trial could take place today,” his wife, Mary Lau, told the Singapore-based Straits Times newspaper, for which Ching is the China correspondent.

It seems that Ching is to be tried although the Chinese authorities have produced no evidence of his guilt. “We had hoped he would be freed without a trial because he is innocent,” said his wife, who has not been allowed to see him despite repeated requests. He has also not been allowed to see a lawyer during the eight months he has been held. He was arrested on 22 April.

Ching is facing a heavy prison sentence. The Chinese authorities claim that he set up spying networks and held lots of military and economic information that is classified. In fact, Ching was arrested when trying to obtain the manuscripts of secret interviews with former pro-reform leader Zhao Ziyang.


Authorities extend pretrial detention for Ching Cheong for third time

Reporters Without Borders today condemned a three-month extension to the pretrial detention of Hong Kong-based journalist Ching Cheong, who is being held by the state security department in Beijing on a spurious charge of spying for Taiwan. His newspaper, the Singapore-based Straits Times, said this was the third extension.

“The complexity of the case invoked by the authorities to justify such a decision falls far short of concealing this violation of press freedom,” Reporters Without Borders said.

Agence France-Presse reported that the length of Ching’s detention was already extended in October and November. According to Chinese law, the findings of the Ching investigation should have been handed to the state prosecutor at the start of October. Aged 55, Ching was detained on 22 April and was formally placed under arrest on 5 August.


Ching Cheong completes six months in detention on spying charge

Reporters Without Borders voices outrage at the continuing detention of Hong Kong-based reporter Ching Cheong, who today completes his sixth month in solitary confinement on a trumped-up charge of spying for Taiwan which the Chinese authorities have been trying to bolster by means of smear campaigns against him and his family.

The correspondent of the Singapore-based Straits Times, the 55-year-old Ching was arrested by the Chinese political police on 22 April while on his way to the southern city of Guangzhou. Several source have said he was seeking documents about former Communist Party of China leader Zhao Ziyang, who died in January.

“The governments of Hong Kong and Singapore must put pressure on the authorities in Beijing to make them see reason in the Ching case, and everyone must continue to campaign on Ching’s behalf,” Reporters Without Borders, reiterating its call for his release.

More than 15,000 people have already signed an international petition for his release that was launched by Reporters Without Borders and the Hong Kong Journalists Association.

Ching is being held at a State Security premise in Beijing. The Chinese authorities have refused to allow anyone to visit him, including representatives of his newspaper. His wife, Mary Lau, was invited to Beijing but she was afraid of being arrested herself and did not go.

The Chinese foreign ministry announced on 31 May that Ching had confessed to being a “spy in the pay of foreign agencies”. He was charged with spying for Taiwan on 5 August and faces a possible life sentence for “endangering national security.” On 17 August, the State Security turned down his wife’s request to hire a lawyer to defend him.

Lau has rejected the charges against her husband, saying he always led a modest life-style with no sign of the money he allegedly received from Taiwan, and that he was always motivated by the desire to inform, not to hurt the People’s Republic of China.

Reporters Without Borders is firm in its condemnation of the campaigns to smear Ching being relayed by pro-Beijing publications in Hong Kong. These have included naming a Shenzhen journalist as his accomplice and mistress. The journalist concerned immediately called a news conference in Hong Kong to deny the allegation.

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