Journalist Ching Cheong's appeal against his conviction of spying for Taiwan might not be heard in court, his lawyer said yesterday. 'The appeal will not be heard in court if [the court] believes that there are clear facts and enough evidence, and thinks that the verdict of the appeal will be the same as that in the first trial,' said mainland lawyer He Peihua, attending a gathering of China University of Politics and Law alumni in Hong Kong yesterday. Ching, The Straits Times of Singapore's chief China correspondent, lodged an appeal last Friday after he was sentenced last month to five years in prison for leaking state secrets and military information to an institute in Taiwan. He has maintained his innocence. His lawyer said the Intermediate People's Court of Beijing would, on or before tomorrow, transfer the case and its documents to Beijing's Supreme People's Court. If the court agrees to hold an appeal, it will notify the Supreme People's Procuratorate and Ching. From the day of notification it would usually take up to a month, or sometimes at most two and a half months, to end the case, Mr He said, adding that the decision would be final. The lawyer said he and Ching had not yet considered seeking medical parole. 'We are putting all our efforts in the appeal right now,' he said. Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday weighed in on the case, saying there would be a fair hearing based on facts and the law for the Hong Kong journalist. Mr Wen said he was not familiar with the details of the case, but defended the Chinese judicial system. 'China has an independent judiciary system, and I believe relevant authorities would try a case according to facts and the law,' he told Hong Kong reporters as he concluded his visit to Helsinki to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting. In a press statement, the Ching Cheong Incident Concern Group said it agreed with the state leader over the importance for China of rule by law. It said it was essential for Chinese leaders to closely monitor the relevant authorities and ensure these principles and policies would be implemented. The group said it also supported time in court, apparently worried that the appeal might be quashed even without a proper court hearing. The group urged the authorities to review Ching's case and release him if they found any impropriety. It also hit out at media organisations, which it claimed had selectively disclosed negative details about Ching.