Wed, Jun 08, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Singapore paper demands justice for `spy' reporter

AP , SINGAPORE

A Singapore newspaper yesterday said it had been denied access to its reporter detained in China for allegedly spying, and expects a fair trial if he is charged.

In an editorial, the Straits Times said it had been unable to see reporter Ching Cheong (程翔) since his detention on April 22 in Guangzhou, and that it believes he is innocent until proven guilty.

"As much as China permits no sabotaging of its national interest, it has to be cognizant of the fact that there is a worldwide expectation from uninterested [sic] quarters that justice be seen to be served -- for the accused no less than for the accuser," the editorial said.

The Straits Times "is staying focused on China's allegation that Mr. Ching had been spying for an unnamed overseas espionage agency," the editorial said.

"This is the issue that matters most. Much is at stake: Mr. Ching's liberty, the transparency of the investigative and judicial processes taking place, China's national security in a period of intense geopolitical undercutting," it said.

Singapore Press Holdings, which publishes the Straits Times, said on Sunday that Ching's wife, Mary Lau (劉敏儀), had been advised by the Chinese government that her husband was formally under arrest.

The parent company said that Ching had not yet been charged.

Lau claims that Ching was working with a Chinese researcher on briefings on Hong Kong and Taiwan commissioned by the Chinese leadership and that the researcher shared confidential remarks by the leaders with Ching so that he was better informed.

The Chinese foreign ministry said last week that Ching was accused of gathering information for an intelligence agency "outside of our jurisdiction."

Lau speculated that China was referring to Taiwan.

Ching once worked for a pro-Beijing newspaper in Hong Kong, but quit in protest at China's brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters occupying Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989.

The editorial in the Straits Times said the newspaper's parent company understood that it was operating bureaus in China "at Beijing's sufferance," and that its staff took their professional duties seriously.

"China has given its undertaking that Mr. Ching will be treated well while in custody," the editorial said.

"We are assured by this and remain hopeful that his immediate family members will be given access to him soon," it said.

Also see story:

Ching a victim of Beijing's games

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