22 February 2018

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11/24/2006 CHINA – HONG KONG

Beijing High Court rejects Cheong appeal: 5 years in jail

Relatives and colleagues of the journalist – condemned without proof for spying for Taiwan – have indicted the unjust Chinese legal system that did not even take the arguments presented for the appeal into account.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The High Court in Beijing today rejected the appeal presented by Ching Cheong, a Hong Kong journalist convicted without proof and sentenced to five years in prison for "spying for Taiwan". His relatives and supporters in the Territory described the sentence as "shocking".

The Beijing court maintained that the five-year sentence for Ching – former chief China correspondent for Singapore's Straits Times – was "accurate in application of the law and an appropriate punishment". A judge of the court said "Ching's right of appeal had been fully guaranteed".

Ching's family attended the hearing. They said they were "shocked" and "disappointed with the mainland's legal system". Ching's elder brother, Ching Hai, said: "We feel very sad and shocked. The judge completely agreed with the lower court and rejected our grounds for appeal. We think it's very unfair,"

From Hong Kong, colleagues and supporters of Ching accused the High Court of "ignoring the defence argument" and said that "put serious doubt about the fairness of China's legal system".

Ching, 56, has been under arrest since April 2005. On 31 August, the court condemned him to five years in jail: the journalist was said to have confessed to selling military secrets to Taiwan and to setting up a spy network to "sell state secrets" to foreign powers.

The journalist's lawyers described his sentence as "mistaken, because it was pronounced without proof" while Taipei has often said the charges are unfounded and has given unequivocal guarantees of the reporter's innocence.

In China, most information pertaining to the life of the nation is considered to be "state secret" and revealing it through the media is branded as "an attempt against state security". Currently at least 42 journalists are in prison because of this.

Dissident figures have told AsiaNews that the reasons for Ching Cheong's arrest are to be found in his research on Zhao Ziyang, who was secretary of the Party during the time of the pro-democracy uprisings, and about the Tiananmen massacre in 1989. The government continues to justify the massacre as a "minor" evil which guaranteed national stability and order, leading to economic success. 

See also

23/11/2006 CHINA
Beijing: tomorrow final verdict for Ching Cheong, arrested without proof

Tomorrow, the High Court of the capital will hand down its decision on the appeal filed by the journalist, condemned to five years in jail for spying. His wife is worried about his health.

04/09/2006 HONG KONG - CHINA
Wife of Hong Kong journalist imprisoned in China will fight for his appeal

Mary Lau, Ching Cheong's wife, has requested that her husband receive medical treatment in prison: he has serious cardiac problems. The journalist, condemned to five years in prison after a trial without evidence, will spend his time studying.

28/10/2006 CHINA
Beijing denies appeal to Ching Cheong, journalist condemned without proof

An expert on Chinese law said Ching has practically no chance of being released now. There is the faint hope that his sentence may be reduced.

31/08/2006 HONG KONG – CHINA
China: five years behind bars for Ching Cheong, "guilty of spying"

The judges maintain that the reporter sold military secrets to Taiwan and created a spy network to plot against the state. In reality, when arrested, he was working on an article about the Tiananmen Square massacre.

22/02/2008 CHINA – HONG KONG
Ching Cheong:“Once you're caught in” that spiral, suicide “can be the end”
For the first time since his release journalist Ching Cheong talks about his almost three years in prison. Sentenced without evidence for espionage in favour of Taiwan and released before completing his time thanks to outside pressure, he found comfort in prayer and religious and mystical texts.

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