Justice Denied: Chinese Courts Confirm Ching Cheong's Conviction

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is outraged by the rejection of Ching Cheong's appeal by the Beijing Higher People's Court this morning.

On top of confirming the original five-year prison term, Ching is reportedly deprived of political rights for a year and his personal property worth 300,000 yuan (approximately 38,000 USD) was confiscated.

"The case of Ching is a litmus test for press freedom in China, which the Chinese authorities have dismally failed," IFJ President Christopher Warren said.

"Natural justice has been denied to Ching today for the sake of sending a clear message to journalists reporting on China: do not cross the state," said Warren.

After being detained for over 500 days, chief China correspondent for Singapore's The Strait Times, Ching Cheong, was convicted of spying offence by the Chinese courts and sentenced to five years imprisonment on August 31 in Beijing.

The IFJ and its affiliates including the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), along with major press freedom groups, have been consistently campaigning for the release of Ching and for all charges against him to be dropped.

Ching had been reportedly working on a story about late Communist Party leader, Zhao Ziyang, when he was convicted.

"Ching should never have been charged and should now be released," the IFJ President said.

To prove offence, the prosecution had to prove that Ching had accepted jobs from a spying organisation or its agents, thereby causing harm to national security.

But based on an analysis of Ching's trial by Hong Kong university law professor Johannes Chan, the reasoning put forward was extremely feeble, full of loopholes, and lacked sufficient evidence to support a conviction.

"This has been a political case from the start aimed squarely at achieving one goal: to cower journalists reporting in and on China," Warren said.

The IFJ, the global 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 +61 2 9333 0919

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