China Frees Jailed Hong Kong Journalist (Updated)

Reuters and RTHK are reporting that Straits Times reporter Ching Cheong has been freed from prison:

China has freed Ching Cheong, a Hong Kong reporter for Singapore’s Straits Times sentenced to five years for spying for Taiwan, Hong Kong’s RTHK reported on its Web site on Tuesday.

Ching, who was reportedly in poor health and whose family had pushed for an early release on medical grounds, was freed on Monday ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday and was expected back in Hong Kong on Tuesday afternoon. No details were immediately available.

As news breaks about Ching’s release, human rights groups are reporting that another writer, Lu Gengsong, has been sentenced to four years in jail. Chinese Human Rights Defenders writes:

Lu Gengsong (吕耿松), a Hangzhou-based freelance writer and human rights defender detained since August 24, 2007, was sentenced to four years in prison and one year of political rights deprivation for “inciting subversion of state power” by the Hangzhou City Intermediate People’s Court on February 5.

Lu’s wife, daughter and two friends were present when the verdict was read. The court session lasted 15 minutes. Hangzhou Public Security Bureau (PSB) barred other supporters and friends from attending the verdict by either putting them under house arrest or, for those who arrived at the Court, preventing them from entering the courtroom. Lu’s trial on January 22 was also a closed trial.

Update: See also a report from the AP on Lu’s sentence and an AFP report on both Ching’s release and Lu’s sentence.


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