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China insists former NYT staffer held legally

[JURIST] A spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry [official website, English version] said Thursday that the case of a detained Chinese researcher who worked for the New York Times is being dealt with according to Chinese law. Zhao Yan has been held since September 2004, and has still not been released [JURIST report] by Chinese authorities despite two formal requests filed by Yan's defense lawyer following a court order last week to dismiss state secret charges [JURIST report] levied against him. Asked about the case, the Ministry spokesman simply said that the "actual situation is not like what you are talking about."

The Committee to Protect Journalists [official website] reports that 32 journalists are currently being held [CPJ report] in Chinese prisons, allegedly more than in any other country. Zhao, a researcher at the Times Beijing bureau, was accused of leaking state secrets after the Times published a report on the unexpected resignation of former President Jiang Zemin [Wikipedia backgrounder] from his role as chief of the military. AP has more.

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