Reporter Held In China To Have Case Brought Within Days

December 28, 2005 12:00 am Last Updated: December 28, 2005 12:00 am

BEIJING- A Singapore Straits Times reporter arrested in China on charges of spying will have his case referred to the prosecution department within days, Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang said on Wednesday.

Tsang had brought up the case of Ching Cheong, who was based in Hong Kong, during meetings in Beijing with CCP leaders Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao.

“I understand that the matter is being actively looked into and the case will be referred to the prosecution department before Jan. 6,” Tsang told a news conference in Beijing.

Ching, 56, was first detained in April in southern China and formally arrested in August. Earlier in December, the Straits Times quoted a Chinese official as saying Ching's investigation and detention period had been extended for one month because of the complexity of the case.

Tsang did not indicate what precisely might happen to Ching.

But bringing his case from state security to the prosecution department does not necessarily mean that Ching will be indicted for trial or released. Under Chinese law, the prosecution can still send the case back for further investigation.

If charged and convicted, Ching could face the death penalty.

His case was one among a series of jailings of Chinese reporters that have stoked international criticism of China's controls on the media.

Last week, lawyers for Zhao Yan, a New York Times researcher taken into custody last year, said Zhao was to be put on trial charged with exposing state secrets while working for the Times.