China could still try NYT researcher, lawyer says

[JURIST] After serving 19 months in a Chinese prison on charges of disclosing military secrets and being told the charges would be dropped [JURIST report] last month, New York Times researcher Zhao Yan [HRIC profile, PDF] learned Monday that he may still be tried for his work on an article that appeared in the Times. Chinese prosecutors told lawyers for Zhao that the although the charges have technically been dropped, the government plans to "revive" the case. Zhao's lawyers speculated that because "reviving" a case after it has been dropped is without legal precedent in China, the decision to hold him to trial likely came from the highest levels of the Communist Party, outside the framework of the ordinary legal system.

Zhao was arrested after a Sept. 7, 2004 article in the Times suggested that former Chinese President Jiang Zemin [Wikipedia profile] would resign from his position as head of the military. Within ten days after the article was published, Jiang did step down, and Zhao was sent to a Beijing prison. The case is an issue expected to be raised by US officials when current Chinese President Hu Jintao [official profile] visits Washington on Tuesday. Hu has previously insisted that Zhao was being held legally [JURIST report]. Reuters has more. The New York Times has additional coverage.

 

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