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China accuses reporter of stealing secrets

[JURIST] China Tuesday publicly accused Ching Cheong, chief China correspondent for Singapore's Straits Times newspaper [subscription required], of spying for "foreign agencies". According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry [official website, English version], "Ching admitted that in recent years he engaged in intelligence-gathering activities on the mainland on instructions from foreign intelligence agencies and accepted huge amounts of spying fees." Ching was detained by Chinese authorities on April 22 and could face the death penalty if convicted. Ching's wife, however, says her husband has been accused of stealing state secrets because he obtained unpublished interviews with late Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang [Wikipedia profile]. A source close to Zhao's family said the authorities were determined to prevent the publication of the interviews of the former leader, purged for opposing the 1989 Tiananmen massacre [Wikipedia entry], because it would undermine the legitimacy of the current leadership. According to New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists [official website], China has the most journalists in prison of any country. Reuters has more.

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