Evidence made public so far has been too weak to substantiate the spying accusation against Ching Cheong, according to an expert on mainland law in Hong Kong. Yesterday's Xinhua report of Ching's conviction and sentence said Ching had provided 'state secrets' to an institute in Taiwan during his posting in Taiwan between April 2004 and April 2005, knowing that the institute was an intelligence agency. The Taipei-based Foundation on International and Cross Strait Studies yesterday confirmed Ching had taken part in its academic forums during his posting in Taiwan. But the foundation denied it was a spy agency. Ong Yew-kim, a Chinese law researcher at the Chinese University of Hong Kong's Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, said descriptions of the charges, as contained in the Xinhua report, were so vague he doubted if the authorities had solid evidence against Ching. 'To claim that that institute is an intelligence agency, the authorities must state clearly under which government department the institute is, the source of funding, and who the leaders are,' Mr Ong said. 'The report did not even name the institute, only alleging that it is an intelligence agency. Based on such sketchy evidence, the court should not have reached a verdict.' But Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, associate dean of City University's School of Law, said Ching's family should try to apply for his release on medical parole. She said the sentence could be considered 'light' for a spying conviction.