Newspaper manager freed early

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 February, 2008, 12:00am

A former manager of the Southern Metropolis News was released from a Guangzhou jail yesterday after serving four years of a 12-year sentence, Reporters Without Borders said.

Yu Huafeng , who was convicted of corruption and bribery in 2004, was freed three days after the release of Ching Cheong, the chief China correspondent of Singapore's The Straits Times.

Mr Yu's wife, Xiang Li , said her husband left a prison in Panyu , near Guangzhou, in the morning and went home shortly afterwards to celebrate Lunar New Year.

The Paris-based reporters' rights group hailed Mr Yu's release but said it would step up its campaign to put an end to the jailing of journalists and internet writers on the mainland before the Olympic Games.

Mr Yu was jailed following a series of high-profile arrests in the paper's newsroom in 2004.

The arrests spawned controversy because the newspaper enjoyed a large readership with a liberal editorial approach to issues such as government negligence and corruption.

Mr Yu's sentence was reduced to eight years in 2004 following an appeal, and another year was taken off last year, days after the release of Li Minying , a former director of the newspaper's parent group.

Mr Yu was accused of taking 1.56 million yuan from the company in 2000 and giving Mr Li a bribe of 970,000 yuan.