RWB calls on S’pore and Britain to act on detained journalist

Reporters Without Borders called on Singapore and Britain to act to obtain the release of journalist Ching Cheong, Hong Kong correspondent for the Singapore daily Straits Times who has been detained in Beijing for more than one month.

The Singapore-resident journalist, who was picked up by Chinese police in Guangzhou, southern China on 24 April, is the holder of a British National Overseas (BNO) passport specific to Hong Kong. He faces a possible charge of stealing state secrets.

The Singapore and British governments should pressure for the immediate release of the journalist, the worldwide press freedom organisation said in letter addressed to the Singapores Prime Minster Lee Hsieng Loong, and British Foreign Minister Jack Straw.

The organisation insisted that Singapore government had an obligation to protect the freedom of the journalist who was working for a pro-government newspaper Straits Times. The Singapore ministry of foreign affairs however stated on 30 May that the Chinese authorities had not contacted it about the subject so they did not have sufficient information.

Ching Cheong, 55, travelled to Guangzhou to collect documents connected with the former communist party leader, Zhao Ziyang, who died in January while under house arrest for negotiating with demonstrators in 1989.

Ching is the second journalist employed by a foreign newspaper to be detained in China. New York Times contributor, Zhao Yan, was arrested by Chinese authorities in October 2004 and accused of divulging state secrets.