Freed journalist back to work next week

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 April, 2008, 12:00am

Released Hong Kong journalist Ching Cheong will resume work next Monday, after being held on the mainland for almost three years.

The chief China correspondent for The Straits Times of Singapore, who was freed on February 5 two days ahead of the Lunar New Year, said he originally planned to take a month's leave after his release but later decided to rest for another month. He went to Singapore to discuss his work plans with his company in February.

Ching said he would be based in Hong Kong and write commentaries and analyses on China affairs, but he did not have plans to visit the mainland for reporting work in the near future.

Yesterday morning he returned to The Straits Times' Hong Kong office in Admiralty for the first time since his release, to arrange unhandled letters sent to him during his absence.

'I was away for almost three years and they [colleagues] have not moved my desk,' he said.

The veteran journalist said he was very happy to be back at work. Ching, 58, said he was in fine health but still found he could become easily tired.

Ching, who after his release had expressed a wish to cover the Beijing Olympics, said he had not discussed the matter with his company. 'After all, it is a big event for China, regardless of what happened to me.'

The journalist was detained on the mainland in April 2005 and was convicted by a Beijing court of spying for Taiwanese agencies in August 2006. Ching was sentenced to five years' imprisonment and was transferred from a Beijing jail to Guangzhou early last year. He was freed on parole in February.

He has insisted on his innocence.