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Chinese reporter loses appeal of state secrets conviction

[JURIST] The Beijing Higher People's Court Friday turned down an appeal by Hong Kong reporter Ching Cheong [advocacy website; SCMP Q/A] against his August conviction for passing state secrets. The presiding judge deemed the trial court's ruling "accurate in application of the law and appropriate in meting out punishment," according to a report by state news agency Xinhua. The ruling after a 30-minute hearing followed Ching's initial failure to get a hearing [JURIST report] in October. While working for Singapore's Straits Times [media website] in April of 2005, Ching was arrested in the Chinese city of Guangzhou for providing unnamed "state secrets and intelligence" to Taiwanese intelligence [BBC report] through an unspecified front organization. He was convicted after a two-week trial [JURIST report] behind closed doors. After Friday's ruling by the appeals court, Ching now faces a 5-year prison term [JURIST report].

The Straits Times has expressed disappointment with the decision and concern for the journalist's health. Ching's wife, Mary Lau, maintains her husband's innocence and believes that he was tried because he obtained politically-sensitive, unpublished interviews with late Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang [BBC profile], who was purged for opposing the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre [BBC backgrounder]. The government of Hong Kong, now a Chinese administrative region, refused to intervene in the mainland judicial process. AP has more. Xinhua has local coverage.

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