Jailed journalist can have regular medical checks, say warders

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 August, 2007, 12:00am

Guangzhou prison officers have promised to allow jailed Hong Kong journalist Ching Cheong to have regular intestinal check-ups to keep a medical condition under control, his wife said yesterday after meeting her husband on Monday.

But Mary Lau Man-yee said her husband's health remained poor because he still suffered from an irregular heartbeat, which was being treated with Chinese medicine, as well as insomnia and serious stomach pains.

He was also having to work long hours making uniforms in a prison factory.

Ching was jailed almost a year ago for five years for spying for Taiwan and his family has been concerned that he might develop colon cancer if intestinal polyps he was diagnosed with in 2000 were left untreated.

Lau said Ching had to get up at 6am to start work in the factory.

'Sometimes he needs to work extra hours - sometimes until 10pm - and this makes it even harder for him to get to sleep,' she said.

With the first anniversary of his sentencing tomorrow, there is still no hint of when he can be released, but Lau, also a journalist, hopes he will be able to come home this year.

'When we met him, Ching was very concerned as to when he would be released, yet he also understood very well that it was not too easy. He asked us to continue pressing for his release,' she said.

Despite his ordeal, Lau said the respected journalist had asked her to convey a message of love and forgiveness.

'He wanted to tell everybody that he is full of love, forgiveness and does not bear any hatred towards anybody.

'He also wants people to know that he has done nothing to disappoint those who understand, trust and support him,' Lau said.

'He also stressed that he had not done anything that went against his conscience or friends.'

While admitting to feeling helpless, Lau said she had never given up hope and would continue fighting for her husband's release on medical parole.

'My friends in the pro-Beijing camp also told me that they often mentioned his case to the relevant authorities whenever they had a chance,' she said, adding that the family kept regular contact with Security Bureau officials who were following the case.

Ching, chief China correspondent for Singapore's The Strait Times, was detained on April 22, 2004. He was jailed on August 31, 2006, for five years for spying and was transferred from Beijing to Guangzhou on January 21 this year to serve his term.