Sat, Dec 23, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Journalists' group calls for Ching Cheong's freedom

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

The Association of Taiwan Journalists called yesterday for Beijing to immediately release Ching Cheong (程翔), chief China correspondent for Singapore's Straits Times, who was sentenced to five years in prison in August last year on charges of spying for Taiwan.

Staff of the association tied yellow ribbons on a Christmas tree in a show of support for Ching, 56, whose appeal, filed by his wife and lawyers, was rejected on Nov. 24.

In a swift closed trial in Beijing on Aug. 31 last year, the Chinese judges said that Ching had been spying for Taiwan since 2000 and had been paid several million Hong Kong dollars for his services, which supposedly included handing state secrets to Taiwan.

According to Chou Fu-mei (周富美), a member of the journalist association's standing executive committee, the Association of Hong Kong Journalists initiated an international signature drive last year to demand that Beijing allow an open and fair trial for Ching. So far, the Hong Kong association has collected more than 500,000 signatures from members of the media around the world.

"As part of the global family of journalists, the Association of Taiwan Journalists will not be absent from this campaign," Chou said.

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