journalist Ching Cheong extended

New York, December 12, 2005—Chinese authorities have extended for three months the detention without charge of Hong Kong journalist Ching Cheong, a move condemned today by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Ching, a reporter for the Singapore daily The Straits Times, has been held since April 22 without access to a lawyer.

“It is deplorable that our colleague continues to be held in a Beijing detention center without counsel or any means to defend himself against the government’s accusations,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “Authorities have produced no evidence of a crime, and must release Ching Cheong immediately.”

Ching was detained while seeking transcripts of interviews with ousted former leader Zhao Ziyang, according to his wife Mary Lau. Zhao spent 15 years under house arrest for opposing the military crackdown at Tiananmen Square in 1989.

On August 5, the official Xinhua News Agency reported that Ching had been formally arrested on suspicion of spying for Taiwan. He was transferred from house arrest in Beijing to a remand center.

A Chinese official speaking on behalf of the State Council told The Straits Times that the investigation period for Ching’s had been extended twice after his arrest, the newspaper reported on Saturday.

The Straits Times said its requests for Ching to see a lawyer have been denied.