Two Years on IFJ Urges Chinese Government to Release Ching Cheong

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has renewed its calls for the release of Hong Kong reporter Ching Cheong, who has now spent more than two years behind bars on charges of spying against China.

On April 22, 2005, the chief China correspondent for Singapore’s The Strait Times, was charged and then detained for over 500 days.

He was then convicted of spying offences by the Chinese courts and sentenced to five years imprisonment, in Beijing on August 31, 2006.

“After two years of aborted justice, the world must not forget Ching Cheong as an example of the Chinese government’s tyrannical attitude to press freedom and the justice system,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.

“The IFJ calls again on the Chinese government to release Ching and the many other Chinese journalists jailed, often on trumped up charges, for merely carrying out their journalistic work,” Warren said.

Ching’s appeal was rejected in November 2006, and his five-year prison term was confirmed, his political rights suspended and his personal property worth 300,000 yuan (approximately US$38,000) confiscated.

The IFJ, and its affiliate the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), has consistently maintained that the Chinese government used Ching as an example to independent and investigative reporting, at the expense of his rights to justice and a fair trial.

“It is clear the outrageously excessive sentencing was simply a means for the Chinese government to send a warning message, and had little to do with the patchy evidence against Ching,” Warren said.

“Now the Chinese government must put an end to jailing journalists as a means of silencing dissent and stifling freedom of expression.”

“Around the world, we must remember Ching Cheong, and raise our voices to show that critical reports and a free press are vital to any healthy, functioning society,” he said.

The IFJ the organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries will continue to fight for the release of Ching and calls for the Chinese authorities to put an end to jailing journalists.

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

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