Secret hearing for reporter accused of spying expected to start in Beijing today Friends and colleagues of Ching Cheong are making a last-minute attempt to call for a fair trial for the Hong Kong-based journalist, who is expected to appear in a Beijing court this morning. Ching, who is accused of spying for Taiwan and who works for The Straits Times of Singapore, has been detained for almost 16 months without trial. The Hong Kong Journalists Association will hold a candle-light vigil in Chater Garden, Central, at 7pm today, following the expected opening of a secret hearing, possibly in Beijing No2 Intermediate People's Court. 'The association strongly urges the mainland authorities to handle Ching's case in a fair, just and open manner,' the association said in a statement. Dozens of friends, journalists and politicians are expected to take part in the vigil in an effort to put pressure on Beijing over the case. But Ching's journalist wife, Mary Lau Man-yee, is not expected to attend the vigil because of her wish to keep a low profile and so avoid jeopardising her husband's case. The Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said a Beijing prosecutor involved in the hearing had confirmed that the trial would be held today. A source close to the Ching family said that, according to mainland law, the authorities were not required to inform the family about the date of his trial because the case involved national security. The Criminal Procedure Law states that cases which involve state secrets shall not be heard in public. No information on the date of the trial had been posted on the notice board at the court yesterday. It is understood that a request by Ching's family to attend the hearing has been turned down by the authorities after the Beijing court accepted the case in early May. 'His family will not lodge further requests to attend the hearing,' the source said. 'There is little his family can do now.' It was unclear if the family would go to Beijing. Mak Chai-ming, a spokesman for the Ching Cheong Incident Concern Group, said that they had not been told about the latest developments but hoped the trial would be conducted in an open and fair manner. 'We are convinced that Ching Cheong has not done anything to endanger national security,' Mr Mak said. A spokesman for the Security Bureau said the government was concerned about Ching's case and had conveyed the appeals by Ching's family and other groups to Beijing. A spokeswoman for The Straits Times said the newspaper would pay any legal costs involved in the case but had yet to receive the latest information. About a dozen protesters, led by legislator Leung Kwok-hung, protested outside the central government's liaison office yesterday demanding Ching's release.