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China Trial of Hong Kong Journalist Ends

August 16, 2006

BEIJING (AP) _ The trial of a Hong Kong journalist accused of spying for Taiwan ended here after one day, his employer said, and a Chinese researcher linked to the case was tried Wednesday in a brief closed-door session, a Hong Kong activist said.

Ching Cheong, a correspondent for Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper, was detained in April 2005, and state media later claimed he confessed to selling military secrets to Taiwan and setting up a spy network. His supporters say he is innocent.

Ching’s trial in the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate Court started and ended Tuesday, said Carole Chow, a spokeswoman for Singapore Press Holdings, the Straits’ Times parent company.

Frank Lu, a human rights activist in Hong Kong who runs a one-man news service, said in a faxed statement Wednesday that a verdict was likely to be announced Thursday based on the routine of past, similar cases.

Ching was detained during a visit to the southern city of Guangzhou. His wife, Mary Lau, said he was set up by an unnamed intermediary who said he could help get tapes of interviews with the late leader Zhao Ziyang, who was deposed after the 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests.

But in an open letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao that was published in Hong Kong newspapers in June, Lau said Ching may have been targeted because of his ties to a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government think tank, who had access to confidential discussions between China’s leaders.

Lau wrote that the researcher, Lu Jianhua, ``frequently shared with Ching Cheong classified comments made by leaders, including yours and those of other leaders.″

She said in her letter that Lu shared the information that Ching would be able to help him conduct interviews and prepare briefings commissioned by China’s leadership about Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Lau ended her letter by telling Hu, ``Sir, I hope you understand that whatever Ching Cheong and Lu Jianhua did, they were standing firmly on the side of Chinese people.″

Lu Jianhua was tried on Wednesday in a brief closed-door session that lasted less than two hours, said Frank Lu. His wife was not allowed to attend the proceedings and Lu Jianhua did not request a lawyer, the activist said in his statement.

It was not immediately clear what charges Lu Jianhua faced. Officials of the government think tank earlier confirmed that he was under investigation and that he had been detained by security agents in April, but they refused to give their names and said they didn’t know why he was in police custody.

Update hourly