THE father of Xi Yang said he was unable to endure being told of the 12-year prison sentence passed on his son who he said was merely carrying out his duty as a reporter. Giving his first media interview yesterday, Xi Linsheng, who suffered a heart attack when told of his son's punishment, said: ''He was only reporting the news he heard and it was published. I haven't heard of anything about espionage or spying until now.'' Mr Xi, who was joined by the deputy editor of Ming Pao, Zhang Xixiong, is still in hospital receiving treatment. ''My son was only doing the job of a reporter. Why should he deserve such a severe sentence?'' he said. ''I was shocked and disappointed. I cannot endure such a shock.'' Mr Xi said he had not received any formal notice of his son's jailing and only knew about it in a telephone call from the Chinese authorities. ''Nobody told me what his charges were and what happened during the trial,'' he said. ''I think I know even less than some Hong Kong people.'' Mr Xi said the chances of a successful appeal were remote. ''I'll fight, but I do not have much hope,'' he said. ''But I feel the lawyers we hired are professional and will stand by the principle of upholding justice.'' Mr Xi said since his son's arrest in September he met him for only 30 minutes - on November 23 - and it had driven his family to despair. ''We are living in a deep depression, thinking about his fate and future,'' he said. ''I and my relatives are very worried. Sometimes we only find some comfort by indulging in fantasy.'' He said he and his son could only communicate through short memos but that he had learned more through Hong Kong delegates of the National People's Congress. He said he was grateful to his son's colleagues and Hong Kong's key advisers to Beijing for their help.