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China 20 July 2006

Call for release of Ching Cheong for lack of evidence

Reporters Without Borders is joining 19 other human rights groups in a daylong campaign for Hong Kong journalist Ching Cheong, whose trial is due to open in Beijing in the next few days.

The signatories of the appeal are calling for the international community to react in support of this principled journalist who has been wrongly accused of spying and has been held in custody by state security in Beijing for the past 15 months. You can see the appeal launched by his wife, Mary Lau, on www.visual-artists-guild.org.

Reporters Without Borders today sent a letter to President Hu Jintao with a copy to the Chinese ambassador in France.

Mr Hu Jintao President of the People’s Democratic Republic of China C/o Chinese Embassy 11, avenue George V 75008 Paris

Paris, 20 July 2006

Dear Mr President,

Reporters Without Borders wishes to draw your attention to the plight of Hong Kong journalist Ching Cheong.

Ching Cheong has been accused of spying by your government, after being arrested in Guangzhou in April 2005. The Chinese foreign ministry announced on 31 May 2005, that the correspondent for the Singapore daily Straits Times had confessed to being a spy in the pay of foreign agencies. The management of the Straits Times said it was shocked by the accusations. His wife, Mary Lau, said that he had fallen into a trap laid by a third party when he tried to obtain recordings of secret interviews with the reformist ex-prime minister Zhao Ziyang.

Ching Cheong’s trial is due to open in Beijing in the next few days. He faces the death penalty. Despite the serious espionage charges, your government has not produced any concrete proof against him. The procedure has been marked by numerous irregularities, in violation of the criminal code.

Today, journalists will gather in around ten capitals to call for the immediate release of Ching Cheong. Our message is clear: "There is no evidence against Ching Cheong. Release him".

I trust you will take these comments into consideration, Mr President.

Robert Ménard General Secretary




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