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China 22 December 2006

Ching Cheong spends his 57th birthday in prison

Sign the petition

Journalist Ching Cheong, seriously ill and serving a five-year sentence for "spying", was spending his 57th birthday in prison today, as Reporter Without Borders and the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association (HKJA) presented a petition for his release.

The petition for the release of Ching, who has been in custody since April 2005, attracted 3009 signatures. Before handing over the petition, a group from HKJA demonstrated in his support on the streets of Hong Kong.

The association’s spokesperson, Serenade Woo, said, "Ching Cheong’s health has deteriorated" and that "China should respect human rights."

In a linked case, sociologist Liu Jianhua was sentenced to 20 years in prison on 18 December, on a charge of “revealing state secrets”.

In an open letter sent in June to President Hu Jintao, Ching Cheong’s wife, Mary Lau, wrote: “Lu Jianhua and Ching Cheong regularly shared information about statements by leaders. They did it to prepare their scientific research or their journalistic interviews. I hope you will understand that whatever they did, they were standing firmly on the side of Chinese people.”


High court upholds five-year jail sentence against Ching Cheong

Hong Kong law professor’s analysis of Ching’s conviction available on website

Reporters Without Borders said today it was “outraged” after the High Court in Beijing today upheld a five-year prison sentence against Ching Cheong. The journalist, who was arrested in April 2005, will due for release in 2010.

"His defence was denied the right to speak for him and this political trial was held in appalling conditions,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “Every journalist working in China should feel concerned about this and should campaign for Ching Cheong’s release.”

The journalist’s younger brother, Ching Hai told Hong Kong Cable TV outside the court, "We find it hard to accept and are shocked. We find it unfair and it casts suspicions on China’s transparency and fairness in their state secret procedures."

“Legally this is the final result, but of course we will try our best to see if he will come out safe and as soon as possible”.

Ching Cheong suffers from insomnia and stomach pain. The detention centre where Ching is believed to be held has been located on Google Earth (download the software). It is in the Da Hong Men neighbourhood on the south side of Beijing. To see it, download Google Earth location


High Court urged to acquit Ching Cheong

As a Beijing appeal court prepares to rule on the case of imprisoned journalist Ching Cheong without holding a single hearing, an analysis by Hong Kong university law professor Johannes Chang of his trial and conviction, highlighting the prosecution’s manipulation and mistakes, was made available to the press and international community today by Reporters Without Borders.

The press freedom organisation urged the High court to overturn Ching’s conviction and release him. A Hong Kong-based correspondent for the Straits Times newspaper, Ching was sentenced by a Beijing court in August to five years in prison for alleged spying.

“We will not accept a decision by the appeal court upholding Ching’s conviction,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Ching is innocent !”

Sources in Beijing say the appeal court will probably issue its ruling tomorrow. Despite the international outcry about his conviction, especially in Hong Kong, the appeal court is expected to confirm it.

Ching’s family addressed a petition on 14 November to Donald Tsang, the chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, asking him to intercede on Ching’s behalf with President Hu Jintao. Ching’s health has deteriorated seriously since his arrest during a visit to the Chinese mainland in April 2005.

The detention centre where Ching is believed to be held has been located on Google Earth by Reporters Without Borders (download the software). It is in the Da Hong Men neighbourhood on the south side of Beijing. To see it, download Google Earth location

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