IFJ Condemns China’s Unabated Retreat From Press Freedom

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has voiced its concern at China’s unabated retreat from press freedom, after a high court upheld the jail sentence for New York Times researcher Zhao Yan, and another journalist and assistants were arrested for their reporting.

According to online news reports, the Beijing High Court only took only minutes to confirm the three-year jail sentence against Zhao, in an appeal hearing that inexplicably denied entry to Zhao’s lawyer, and which reportedly began with the judge mistaking Zhao’s place and date of birth.

“It is an absolute outrage that only one week after Ching Cheong’s jail term was confirmed by the high court, Zhao Yan’s appeal suffers the same fate, with similar disrespect shown to the appeal process and to journalists’ rights,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.

Zhao, who along with the New York Times, has always maintained his innocence, was charged with fraud and revealing state secrets in September 2004, and was sentenced in August to jail for fraud, with the state secrets charges dropped.

Earlier this month, a journalist and three assistants from the Beijing-based magazine Guancha Zhoukan were reportedly arrested on November 3 for conducting “illegal interviews” while investigating an explosion at the Luweitan coal mine, which allegedly killed 24 miners.

“We call on the Chinese authorities to reveal the identity of the detained journalist and assistants, and to immediately secure their release,” said the president of the IFJ, the organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries.

“These cases reflect the continuing violations of journalists’ rights in China and are shocking examples of the failure of Chinese authorities to uphold due legal process and basic human rights,” Warren said.

“The IFJ utterly condemns the failure of political and judicial authorities to respect press freedom in China, and urges the courts to reconsider the appeals of Zhao Yan and Ching Cheong, and to free the numerous journalists who are behind bars in China for doing nothing more than their jobs,” he said.

For more information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in 115countries worldwide