The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China welcomes the release of Zhao Yan, a researcher for the New York Times, after his completion of a three-year prison sentence. We call upon the authorities to fully re-instate Zhao Yan’s legal rights.
The FCCC remains concerned about the lack of transparency and due process that led to Zhao being held for more than a year on suspicion of divulging state secrets before finally being sentenced on a completely different charge of fraud. We urge the government to make public the full legal proceedings.
Zhao Yan’s prison sentence, and the conviction of Ching Cheong of the Straits Times on espionage charges, have alarmed many foreign correspondents and raised questions about China’s commitment to greater media openness ahead of the Olympics.
Zhao’s case has highlighted the problem of harassment and intimidation of journalists in China. We hope his release will mark the beginning of the end for such practices, which are not in keeping with China’s aspirations, nor with the world’s expectations of an Olympic host.
As a first step, we urge the Chinese government to bring its state secrets and national security legislation in line with practices endorsed by the United Nations, and to make public the legal proceedings which led to Ching Cheong’s conviction.
We hope Zhao’s return to family and work will be unhindered, and that the circumstances behind his three-year imprisonment will be made public in a transparent way.