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China court orders early release of convicted journalist

[JURIST] The Intermediate People's Court [judicial system backgrounder] in the city of Shaoyang has released a Chinese journalist, Yang Xiaoqing, on bail after he served only seven months of his one-year sentence [JURIST report], Yang's wife said Saturday. The court exempted Yang from serving the remainder of his sentence, but did not overturn his conviction. Yang was arrested in January on charges of using news reports exposing local corruption to extort $100,000 and was convicted in June. Yang wrote for the Hong Kong Commerce Daily [media website] about local corruption in the privatization of a state-owned company. The court said that it left Yang's guilty verdict stand because local officials were concerned that Yang would bring a lawsuit against the government.

Recent exercises of Chinese state power over journalists include the cases of Yang Tianshui [JURIST report] and Li Yuanlong [JURIST report]. Both journalists were sentenced to terms of imprisonment for subverting state authority. A New York Times researcher, Zhao Yan, was also charged this year with leaking state secrets for revealing the resignation of Jiang Zemin as head of the military before it was formally announced by the government. Zhao was convicted [JURIST report] of fraud, but the state secrets charges were eventually dropped. AP has more.

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