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NYT journalist to go to trial in China

China is sending a Chinese journalist working for the New York Times to trial charged with exposing state secrets, his lawyer said on Friday.

Zhao Yan, who worked as a researcher for the paper before his arrest in September last year, won the Reporters Without Borders 2005 prize this month for journalists who have “shown a strong commitment to press freedom”.

“The way they have done this shows they know how controversial the charge is,” lawyer Mo Shaoping told Reuters.

He said the prosecution sent the case “back for reinvestigation twice and then waited until the last day to notify us”.

The bill of indictment would probably be received by the court next week, Mo said. Once it had been received, the court would have between one and one-and-a-half months to hear the case.

Zhao faces a possible prison sentence of 10 years or longer after security officials charged him with telling the New York Times details about rivalry between China’s outgoing Communist Party leader, Jiang Zemin, and new leader Hu Jintao.

Zhao also faces a lesser charge of fraud dating from 2001.

The Times reported on September 7 last year that Jiang was to retire as chairman of China’s Central Military Commission — his last official post — and so hand full formal power to Hu. Jiang retired from the chairmanship 12 days later.

Reporters Without Borders, an organization that campaigns for reporters’ rights, said “Zhao’s arrest has spread fear among the dozens of Chinese journalists working for the increasingly numerous foreign media presence in China”.

Zhao’s arrest is the most prominent of a series of jailings of Chinese reporters that have stoked international criticism about the country’s media controls.

In April, China arrested Ching Cheong, a Hong Kong-based reporter for Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper, on spying charges. The same month, a Chinese reporter, Shi Tao, was sentenced to 10 years’ jail for “revealing state secrets” after he sent propaganda department directives to an overseas Web site.

Zhao has been held in a Beijing state security detention center. His family have not been allowed to communicate with him, and his lawyer has been allowed only limited visits.

Date posted: December 23, 2005 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 3838