SPJ Statement on the Case of Ching CheongFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Irwin Gratz, President, (207) 329-6203 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Kubiske, International Journalism Committee, (809) 886-9750 or email@example.com
INDIANAPOLIS – Word is coming out of China that Straits Times correspondent Ching Cheong, who was secretly arrested this past April, may soon be either sentenced to jail for spying or expelled from China.
The Society of Professional Journalists renews its disgust at the actions taken by the Chinese authorities in this entire process. It is clear that Mr. Ching, a journalist who shares the respect of the local and international journalism communities in Asia, was only doing his job as a journalist. Within hours of admitting security forces were holding Mr. Ching the Chinese government changed the reasons for his detention. They continue to maintain that he was spying but have now refused to say for whom.
At the time of his arrest Mr. Ching was working on stories related to the memoirs of the late Zhao Ziyang, who died while under house arrest because of his opposition to the way Beijing handled the student demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in May and June 1989. Chinese authorities are very nervous about any reevaluation of the June 4 decision to clear the square and the subsequent bloodshed that followed that decision.
The Society of Professional Journalists deplores the secrecy surrounding the detention and arrest of Mr. Ching. We repeat our call from earlier this year that the entire process be open to international media scrutiny and that the charges be clearly stated. We condemn the lack of openness exhibited by Chinese authorities throughout this case.
We condemn the Chinese government for detaining Mr. Ching and secretly holding him for committing the “crime” of being a fair and honest journalist.
The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. SPJ is dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, and based in Indianapolis, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed public, works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists, and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.