Freed reporter gets to cover congress
Zhao Yan, the mainland researcher for The New York Times who was released from three years' jail last September, has been given press accreditation to cover the annual NPC and CPPCC meetings.
The 46-year-old journalist, whose arrest and sentence became a focus of international criticism, began covering the high point of the political calendar at the Great Hall of the People yesterday morning.
Zhao said he was told by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs only last week that he could return to The New York Times and cover the two meetings.
He said he had been 'fighting to return to The New York Times for half a year because there are regulations that people with criminal records cannot work in news organisations'.
'But this is a political issue and it involves Sino-US relations. They have given special treatment to this problem and I think it is progress.'
Zhao was arrested in September 2004 after The New York Times broke the story that former president Jiang Zemin was about to resign from his last official post - that of chairman of the Central Military Commission.
He was first charged with leaking state secrets to the US newspaper. But the prosecutor later dropped the charge and he was sentenced to three years for fraud instead.
When asked how he felt about returning to journalism after three years in prison, Zhao said: 'I used to report on grass-roots issues and now I am looking at things from a very different perspective. It will take some time [for me to adjust].'