China Undercuts Speculation a Jailed Researcher Could Be Freed – Jim Yardley

From the New York Times (link):

Chinese authorities, who last month unexpectedly dropped a state-secrets case against a jailed researcher for The New York Times, have started an investigation period that could lead to reinstating the charges against him by early May, his lawyer said today.

The possibility undercuts the speculation that last month’s withdrawal of the case was intended as a prelude to releasing the researcher, . The timing also means that a final decision on how to proceed with the politically sensitive case will be delayed until weeks after President Hu Jintao has returned from his visit this week to the United States.

in the Wall Street Journal (link, subscription only), Jerome A. Cohen, who is a consultant to the New York Times on Zhao Yan’s case, writes:

Although this case, like others said by the police to involve “state secrets,” has been almost totally non-transparent (for a long period Mr. Zhao was denied access to a lawyer or anyone else), it became clear that the investigators had turned up no significant evidence to support their suspicion. The only item cited to “prove” his involvement was a brief memo written by him about a leadership power struggle that had nothing to do with the report in question and that had been illegally seized from the Times’s files.

…The matter is obviously out of the realm of the courts. Yet in this case the political leadership seems to be in extraordinary disarray, incapable of agreeing upon what it should tell the judiciary to do, as it normally does in important cases. When the Foreign Ministry was asked for clarification, it claimed to be uninformed and surprised. Later its spokesman would only say that the foreign press had misconstrued the situation in predicting that the court order would lead to Mr. Zhao’s release. Since then, there has been nothing but a wall of silence.


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