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Singapore reporter accused of selling China state secrets goes on trial

[JURIST] Ching Cheong [advocacy website; Wikipedia profile], chief China correspondent for Singapore's Straits Times [media website], went on trial Tuesday in China on charges of selling state secrets and spying for Taiwan [BBC report]. Though media in Hong Kong reported that the trial began at the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court, court officials denied knowledge of the trial. Chinese espionage trials are usually conducted through secret proceedings.

Upon Ching's arrest [JURIST report] in April 2005, the Chinese Foreign Ministry [official website, English version], said "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 Ching's wife, however, says her husband has been accused of stealing state secrets because he obtained unpublished interviews with late Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang [Wikipedia profile].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 [BBC backgrounder], because it would undermine the legitimacy of the current leadership. Reuters has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

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