New York, December 23, 2005—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the indictment of New York Times researcher Zhao Yan on charges of leaking state secrets. Prosecutors notified Zhao’s lawyers today of the charges, which could 10 years or more in prison, according to international news reports.
Zhao’s lawyers have not seen the indictment and do not know the details of the charges. He is expected to stand trial within six weeks. Zhao has been imprisoned since September 2004 after The New York Times printed an article correctly predicting the retirement of Jiang Zemin from his post on the Central Military Commission. Zhao’s New York Times colleagues have denied that he provided them with state secrets. Zhao has also been indicted on a lesser charge of fraud, according to news reports.
“This an extremely disturbing development in a case that focuses world attention on China’s atrocious treatment of the press,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “We deplore the prosecution of Zhao Yan which is intended to stifle independent reporting on China’s leadership. We call on the authorities to drop the prosecution and free Zhao immediately.”