Insufficient evidence shown for a conviction, says expert Fresh queries over the spying case of journalist Ching Cheong have been raised following a leak on the internet of what is believed to be the court judgment. A China law expert said the document showed the Beijing court had insufficient evidence to convict the Hong Kong-based journalist of spying for Taiwan's Foundation on International and Cross-Strait Studies. Ching was jailed for five years last Thursday. According to the document, Ching, China correspondent for The Straits Times of Singapore, started contributing articles to the foundation in 2000 and received a HK$300,000 research fee. He had provided two articles with intelligence-related information and one article with military secrets during and after May 2004. He had also asked Chinese Academy of Social Sciences researcher Lu Jianhua to write for The Straits Times since the summer of 2001. Six articles, which included top state secrets and written intelligence materials, were later sent to the foundation, the document said. It said Ching had established the 'intelligence' nature of the foundation by late April 2004, when he was asked to provide pictures of the PLA Navy's port call in Hong Kong. But he continued to submit articles afterwards. But Ching argued he did not know the identity of the foundation's agents and had not asked anyone to write articles concerning state secrets. He said if what he was doing was an offence, it could only be leaking state secrets by mistake. Chinese law expert Ong Yew-kim said judging from the writing style, the text looked like a genuine judgment, leaked by the mainland authorities following an outcry over the secret trial. He said the judgment had failed to prove the foundation was an intelligence agency. He said the judgment only referred to the foundation as a 'Taiwan spy agency's cover-up unit'. It also stopped short of clarifying if Ching had provided pictures of the Chinese garrison as requested. 'The judgment is just full of queries. The ruling on Ching spying for Taiwan is unfounded,' he said, adding the case could be settled through plea bargaining, by changing the spying charge to the lesser offence of unauthorised disclosure of state secrets. Veteran China observer Johnny Lau Yui-siu cited three differences between a Xinhua report last year and announcement of the verdict, which gave rise to hope Ching would win medical parole. He said the Xinhua report quoted the selling of state secrets for several million dollars, but the verdict said only HK$300,000 was involved. Xinhua said Ching's spying activities lasted several years, but the verdict quoted them lasting one year since he had realised the foundation was an intelligence body. Also, Xinhua said Ching had disputed the charges, but the latest document said he had surrendered. Mr Lau said he thought Beijing officials wanted to ease the impact of the Ching case and minimise its repercussions. 'It is a good sign for Ching,' he said. Ching's lawyer, He Peihua, said he and Ching's family were preparing documents for an appeal to meet Monday's deadline. A source familiar with the case said: 'Even if Ching included information contained in articles contributed by Lu Jianhua in his articles published in The Straits Times, Ching had his own input to the articles. It is a normal practice for journalists writing analytical pieces.' Veteran mainland lawyer Zhang Sizhi said whether Ching was guilty of spying depended on whether he had written the testimony as quoted in the verdict.