The case against a jailed Chinese journalist who worked in the Beijing bureau of the New York Times has been sent to prosecutors to determine whether he should be tried on charges of revealing state secrets, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.
The journalist, Zhao Yan, was taken into custody in September, shortly after the Times published a story saying former president Jiang Zemin was about to resign from his last official post, as head of the Communist Party military commission. Although the Times said Zhao did not originate the story, Zhao's family was later notified that he was accused of passing state secrets to foreigners.
Kong Quan, the ministry spokesman, said public security investigators turned Zhao's case over to the Beijing No. 2 People's Procuratorate on May 20. Under the Chinese legal system, prosecutors will now determine whether he should be put on trial based on the evidence accumulated by investigators. Mo Shaoping, Zhao's lawyer, said he had been unable to visit his client since he was arrested and has not been informed of what evidence the investigators have. "The prosecutors are handling the case according to law," Kong told reporters at a briefing.
Zhao's arrest and prosecution are part of what appears to be a toughening of the government's attitude toward Chinese who work for foreign news organizations. A Hong Kong reporter for the Singapore Straits Times, Ching Cheong, was taken into custody during a trip to Guangzhou on the mainland in April and accused of espionage for a foreign organization.
The Foreign Ministry this week accused Ching of accepting large payments in return for information. It did not specify the country or organization to which he was accused of passing information, nor did the government say what information was involved.
Kong said the case also was being handled according to Chinese law.
Ching's wife said he had gone to the southern city of Guangzhou to pick up a manuscript containing a series of interviews with Zhao Ziyang, a senior party leader who opposed the crackdown against Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989 and who died in Beijing in January after nearly 16 years under house arrest.
In a seemingly related development, employees at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said Thursday that a sociologist there, Lu Jianhua, was taken into custody by security agents in April. Sources at the institute, the government's premier Beijing research organization, said they were unsure why Lu was taken into custody.