CPJ asks fair trial for journalist charged with spying

August 2, 2001
His Excellency Jiang Zemin
President, People’s Republic of China
Beijing 100032
People’s Republic of China

VIA FACSIMILE: 86-10-6512-5810

Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply concerned about the continued imprisonment of author and journalist Wu Jianming, a U.S. citizen, on charges of spying for Taiwan and “collecting information that endangers state security.”

We ask Your Excellency to ensure that this case is resolved in an expeditious and legally transparent manner, and that any evidence against Wu is made public. If, as we suspect, these charges stem from Wu’s frequent public criticisms of the ruling elite, then we call for his immediate and unconditional release.

Wu was detained on April 8 in the southern city of Shenzhen and investigated on suspicion of spying for Taiwan, according to numerous sources. He was formally charged on May 26 and is currently being held in Guangzhou. No trial date has been set.

Until 1986, Wu taught at the Chinese Communist Party Central Party School in Beijing. From 1986 to 1988, he was a reporter at the newspaper Shenzhen Youth Daily (Shenzhen Qingnian Bao). He became a U.S. citizen after moving to the United States in 1988 and has since divided his time between Queens, New York, and Hong Kong.

CPJ is concerned that Wu’s arrest may be related to his writing, which has covered a number of politically sensitive topics. In 1990, for example, he published a book on the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 4, 1989. Brought out by a Taiwanese publisher under the title Zhongnanhai Has Played its Trump Cards (Wangpai Chujin de Zhongnanhai Qiaoju), the book analyzed decisions of senior Communist Party officials during the crisis.

From January 1995 until mid-1999, Wu wrote a column under the pen name Jiang Shan for the Hong Kong-based newspaper Apple Daily. The column discussed Chinese political, economic, and foreign-policy issues, including mainland China-Taiwan relations and the 1989 protest movement. From 1996 to 1997, Wu also served as an editor at the now-defunct Hong Kong paper Express (Kuai Bao).

Chinese officials have told the U.S. State Department that Wu is being investigated on suspicion of spying for Taiwan, the same charges levied against Gao Zhan, Qin Guangguang, and Li Shaomin. Gao and Qin are both U.S. permanent residents, while Li is a U.S. citizen who lives in Hong Kong. In late July, Gao, Qin, and Li were all convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison. They were then paroled and allowed to leave the country. During the same period, Qu Wei, a Chinese citizen, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for allegedly providing intelligence and classified official information to Gao and Li. Chinese authorities failed to release details of the charges or any evidence against these four scholars.

As an international organization of journalists dedicated to the defense of press freedom worldwide, CPJ is outraged that your administration has charged a journalist with espionage, apparently based on his legitimate reporting. We ask that Wu Jianming be given a fair and open trial under international legal standards of due process. If found innocent, he should be freed and allowed to return home to the United States.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to your response.


Ann K. Cooper
Executive Director