For Immediate Release
31 August 2006
Extremely Disturbed by the Verdict on Ching Cheong
Mr. Ching Cheong, chief China correspondent for the Singapore’s Straits Times, has been jailed by the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court for five years today after conviction for alleged spying. We are extremely disturbed by the proceedings and the verdict in this case.
Ching Cheong was detained by the State Security Bureau in April last year. It has taken more than a year before his trial was formally started on 15th August this year. The State Security Bureau completely violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which stipulates that anyone who is arrested shall be brought promptly and within a reasonable time to open trial, and that adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence by counsel must be given.
Furthermore, the definitions of espionage and state secrets are ambiguous in the Criminal Law, so much so that responsible journalists and citizens can easily violate this law unintentionally. This seriously jeopardizes the freedom of the press.
We strongly urge the Chinese government, which signed the ICCPR, to fulfill their responsibilities and implement the covenant so that this case and its appeal can be heard in a fair, just and open manner. If the appeal does not show sufficient and solid evidence for conviction, the original verdict should be reversed and Mr. Ching should be promptly released so that he can be reunited with his family in Hong Kong.
Ms Serenade Woo
Chairperson of the HKJA