New York Times employee Zhao Yan, a Chinese national, was detained September 17 on a Kafkaesque “leaking state secrets to foreigners” charge.
A Tuesday, October 5 NYT editorial on the case said: “…Apparently, the “state secret” in this case was an advance report that Mr. Jiang was about to retire. The Times has said Mr. Zhao, who has yet to see a lawyer, had nothing to do with the article. But the very suggestion that routine politics is a state secret in Beijing speaks volumes about the state of Chinese Communism. If he wants to suggest otherwise, Mr. Hu should immediately release Mr. Zhao.”
US Secretary of State Colin Powell raised the case to Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing in late September, when Li was visiting the State Department. Powell said Li told him he’d look into it. But as of when we go to press on October 13, Zhao Yan’s lawyer has still not been able to see him, nor has his family – although they have, says NYT’s Joe Kahn, been able to send in supplies.
The FCCC has protested Zhao’s arrest, urged his release and asked that any further investigation be carried out in a public manner to remove any hint of intimidation toward employees of foreign news organizations. The Hong Kong FCC and the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists have also weighed in. Crunch time comes within days, as Chinese law says that an individual can be detained for only one month without being formally charged. Keep an eye on whether that law is followed.