China Reneges on Release of NYT Researcher

May 27, 2006 Updated: September 15, 2015

BEIJING – China has set a preliminary trial date for a New York Times researcher accused of leaking state secrets, who has been held since September 2004 without appearing before a judge, his lawyer said on Saturday.

China dropped the charge along with a lesser fraud charge in a move seen as a surprise concession just before Hu’s visit to Washington in April.

However, Zhao remained in custody and earlier in May prosecutors told Mo they had re-transferred the case to the Beijing Second Intermediate Court. Mo said at the time the move had no legal basis under Chinese criminal procedure.

“The trial is set to begin on June 8,” Zhao’s layer, Mo Shaoping, told Reuters by telephone, but added that this was just a preliminary date and could still be changed.

Zhao faces a 10-year jail term after the state security apparatus accused him of telling the New York Times details of rivalry between Chinese Communist party (CCP) leader Hu Jintao and his predecessor, Jiang Zemin.

Hu presented a softer line on human rights during the U.S. trip, but just weeks after his return China has put on trial, or is set to try, a string of journalists and Internet writers.

China broadly defines as a state secret anything that affects the security and interests of the state and it is suspicious of any independent organisation dealing with sensitive issues.