Chinese Courts Again Disregard Press Freedom

Only days after journalist Ching Cheong was denied a hearing for his appeal, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is outraged that New York Times researcher Zhao Yan has also been deprived of his rightful chance for an appeal hearing by the Chinese courts.

In a decision announced on November 2, the Beijing High Court ruled that only Zhao’s lawyer would represent him through written submissions to the judges.

“In yet another terrible example of the disregard the Chinese judicial system has for press freedom and a fair and reasonable trial, Zhao is the second media worker to suffer at the hands of the appeal courts in only a matter of days,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.

“The concealment with which the Chinese courts conduct their trials indicates a total contempt for open and accountable judgements, and this decision is another strike against press freedom in China,” Warren said.

Zhao, researcher at the Beijing bureau of the New York Times and former reporter for China Reform magazine, was arrested on September 17, 2004 for allegedly ‘divulging state secrets’ and ‘fraud’.

On August 24, 2006, the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court reportedly dismissed the state secrets charge against Zhao, which held a penalty of up to 10 years jail, however found him guilty of the unrelated charge of fraud and sentenced him to three years jail.

“Zhao has always maintained his innocence, and again he has been denied an opportunity to defend himself in court,” Warren said.

“This is a travesty of justice and the IFJ demands the courts immediately rectify this situation and withdraw all charges against Zhao,” the IFJ president said.

The IFJ, the global organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries, has been consistently campaigning for the release of Zhao and for all charges against him to be dropped.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific +61 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries