Sat, Nov 25, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Chinese appeal court upholds journalist's sentence

AP , BEIJING

A Chinese court yesterday rejected an appeal by a Hong Kong reporter jailed by China on spying charges in one of the highest profile media prosecutions in recent years.

Ching Cheong (程翔), a correspondent for Singapore's Straits Times newspaper, was sentenced to five years' jail in August on charges he was spying for Taiwan.

The Beijing High Court rejected his appeal after a 30-minute hearing, said his younger brother Ching Hong (程翰), who was present in the courtroom.

"Legally this is the final result," said the younger Ching. "But of course we will try our best to see if he will come out safe and as soon as possible."

Ching Cheong's older brother, Ching Hai (程曦), expressed disappointment with China's legal system.

"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. We question the fairness and transparency of this country's legal system," the elder Ching said.

The state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the judge as saying that the original verdict was "accurate in application of the law and appropriate in meting out punishment." The report did not give the judge's name.

"We are disappointed that Ching Cheong's appeal has been unsuccessful," China's employer, the Straits Times, said in an e-mailed statement. "As he is still not in the best of health, we appeal to the Chinese authorities to show him leniency and compassion while he is serving his sentence."

Ching, 56, has been suffering from insomnia and stomach pains, his wife, Mary Lau (劉敏儀), said on Thursday.

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