CPJ condemns journalist’s sentencing

New York, July 25, 2003—Taiwan’s High Court today sentenced reporter Hung Che-cheng to one and a half years in prison on sedition charges for allegedly revealing military secrets.

Though the court granted Hung a three-year suspended sentence, the threat of imprisonment remains.

The sedition charges stem from a July 29, 2000, article that Hung wrote for the now defunct Power News. Government prosecutors claimed that the report included classified information about Taiwan’s military exercises, a sensitive topic because of Taiwan’s strained relations with mainland China, which views the island as a renegade province and has threatened to take the territory by force.

The High Court began legal proceedings against Hung in October 2000. His source for the article, Maj. Liu Chih-chung, is currently serving a two-year jail term for giving the journalist the so-called secrets.

Taiwan officials are extremely sensitive about press coverage of military and national security affairs. Last year, for example, officials cracked down on two other publications for articles that allegedly revealed government secrets after they ran articles about secret bank accounts a former president allegedly used to buy influence abroad.

“It is outrageous that Hung Che-cheng has been sentenced for reporting on matters of clear public interest,” said CPJ Asia program coordinator Kavita Menon. “We call on the Taiwan government to reconfirm its commitment to press freedom by denouncing this ruling and ensuring that journalists are free to conduct their work without fear of government harassment.”