Journalist accused of spying won't argue his case further, family source says A Beijing court would deliver a verdict within days in the spying case against Hong Kong journalist Ching Cheong, a senior Hong Kong-based mainland official said yesterday, as the reporter's family decided not to offer further oral evidence in his defence at this stage. A source close to Ching's family said he would submit a written defence, rather than arguing his case in court, for fear of further delaying the case, which was heard on Tuesday. Ching, a correspondent for Singapore's The Straits Times, has been held for more than 16 months since his detention for allegedly spying for Taiwan. His trial in the Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's Court was over in a day. The source said: 'Mr Ching will submit a written statement for self-defence to the court either today or tomorrow. If we are to further argue the case in the court, we will have to seek the approval of the judges. This will mean holding up the case further.' Ching, 57, pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, which have not been disclosed. He was allowed to defend himself in court on Tuesday and was said to have been in good spirits. The swift conclusion of the hearing, and its secrecy, have raised concerns in Hong Kong about whether Ching was given a fair trial. Li Gang , deputy director of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong, insisted Ching's statutory rights had been fully respected. But, speaking at a public function in Hong Kong, he said the public's concern was understandable. 'As to when the ruling will come and the number of years [of imprisonment], I just don't know. But I believe you will know the ruling in a few days,' Mr Li said. Ching's wife, fellow journalist Mary Lau Man-yee, said she was waiting anxiously for news of her husband's case. Hong Kong Journalists Association chairwoman Serenade Woo Lai-wan would not comment on a TVB news report, quoting unnamed sources, that said Ching would be jailed for six to eight years. Asked about the TVB report, the journalist's lawyer He Peihua said the court would rule in accordance with the law. 'I believe the court will give a fair sentence,' Mr He said. He declined to say whether Ching would be found guilty and what his sentence would be. Any speculation now was just 'guesses'. A spokeswoman for The Straits Times said it had not heard suggestions on Ching's sentencing. 'Definitely we haven't heard anything of that sort,' said Carole Chow. A Hong Kong government spokesman reiterated it was very concerned about Ching's case. 'The central government has made it clear it would handle the case strictly in accordance with the law,' the spokesman said.