Imprisoned journalist Jiang Weiping in ill health

New York, May 17, 2005—The Committee to Protect Journalists is appalled by the recent deterioration in the health care and prison conditions provided to Jiang Weiping, an investigative journalist now serving his fifth year in jail.

Prison authorities have barred Jiang from making phone calls during recent months and have denied him permission to read books, according to CPJ sources. The reasons for the severe measures have not been disclosed. Relatives who visited Jiang in the end of April reported a visible deterioration in his health. Jiang suffers from atrophic gastritis, a serious stomach disorder that has gone untreated in prison.

“We are outraged at prison authorities’ harsh treatment of Jiang,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “We call for the immediate and unconditional release of our colleague, who has already suffered too long for his work exposing corruption.”

Jiang, a former northeast China bureau chief for the Hong Kong-based Wen Hui Bao newspaper, was arrested in December 2000 after writing a series of articles for the Hong Kong publication Qianshao exposing corruption among senior officials in northeastern Chinese cities. In September 2001, the Dalian Intermediate Court secretly tried Jiang and later sentenced him to eight years in prison on charges of “revealing state secrets” and “inciting to subvert state power.”

On December 26, 2002, the Liaoning Province Higher People’s Court heard Jiang’s appeal and, while upholding his guilty verdict, reduced his sentence to six years in prison. Under Chinese criminal law, Jiang has been eligible for parole since December 2003.

CPJ believes that Jiang, a 2001 recipient of CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award, was targeted for arrest by local officials angered by his investigations into corruption. In his articles, Jiang reported that Shenyang Vice Mayor Ma Xiangdong had lost nearly 30 million yuan (US $3.6 million) in public funds gambling in Macau casinos. Jiang also reported that Bo Xilai, now China’s trade minister, had covered up corruption among his friends and family during his years as Dalian mayor.

Ma was later arrested and accused of taking bribes, embezzling public funds, and gambling overseas, as part of the government’s anti-corruption campaign. He was executed for these crimes in December 2001.

Bo traveled to Paris this month to try to dissuade European leaders from imposing limits on textile imports from China.