World’s journos ask China to deal fairly with ‘jailed’ scribe

Agence France Presse

Hong Kong, July 8:

Some 500,000 journalists from over 100 countries have signed a petition calling on China

to treat fairly a Hong Kong reporter under house arrest on spying charges, a media group said today. The Hong Kong Journalists Association said it had sent the letter and signatures to Chinese President Hu Jintao, urging him to release Ching Cheong, head China correspondent for Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper. The petition, organised by the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, demands Hu deal with Ching’s case in a fair, open and lawful manner. “We ask that Chinese authorities deal with Ching’s case in a manner that is open, fair and consistent with the rule of law,” said the petition. “Ching should be allowed

to exercise his rights, including the right to have access to his relatives, to legal epresentation and to government representatives.”

Cheong was arrested in April, but Chinese authorities waited until May to announce he was being held on espionage charges and said he had admitted to spying for “overseas organs” in return for money. Ching’s wife, Mary Lau, said she believed that her husband’s arrest was connected with his attempts to acquire the manuscript of a publication about the late Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang. Zhao, who died in January, was purged and kept under house arrest for the last 16 years of his life for opposing the June 4, 1989 military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in which a large number of people were killed.