Spy-charge journalist tipped to face trial soon

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 May, 2006, 12:00am

Journalist Ching Cheong, held on the mainland on spy charges, is due for trial soon, his employer The Straits Times reported yesterday.

Quoting unnamed sources in Hong Kong, the newspaper said a court trial was due soon in Beijing, a year after Ching was detained.

According to the report, Ching's wife, Mary Lau Man-yee, had been told of the impending trial by the Security Bureau in Hong Kong.

'I just hope that he can be released soon,' she was quoted as saying. She could not be reached for further comment last night.

Leslie Fung, who was Ching's former supervisor at the newspaper, said he learned that the case had been handed back to the court.

'But we don't have any details about the trial,' he said yesterday.

Ching was detained on April 22 last year in Guangzhou and charged in August with spying for Taiwan in return for large sums of money. But in an unusual move, the case was sent back to the Ministry of State Security for review in February.

Mak Chai-ming, spokesman for the Ching Cheong Incident Concern Group, believes the mainland authorities will convict Ching.

'From what we understand, handing a case from the procuratorate to the court means the Chinese authorities believe someone is guilty,' he said.

'We are very concerned about the latest development. We know nothing about what is going on.'

Ong Yew-kim, a research fellow at Chinese University's Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, said the latest move showed the mainland authorities had gathered enough evidence for prosecution. The Hong Kong Journalists' Association called for an open and fair trial.