HONG KONG – Ajournalist charged with spying for has been released from a prison in where he was detained for almost two years, the government said Tuesday.
Officials innotified Tuesday that Ching Cheong had been released on parole, said a who declined to be named, citing policy.
Ching, a Hong Kong-based correspondent for‘s The Straits Times newspaper, was sentenced to five years’ jail in August 2006 on charges of spying for Taiwan. He was detained during a visit to the in April 2005 and sentenced in a one-day trial 16 months later. A Chinese court rejected his appeal in November 2006.
Ching Cheong’s release on parole coincided with the jailing of a dissident writer for four years on a charge of inciting subversion over essays he wrote critical of the government.
Dissident writer Lu Gengsong’s jailing also sparked criticism of China’s communist government.
“The pattern of sentencing against dissidents and human rights defenders under politically motivated subversion charges in recent months indicates a deterioration of the overall human rights situation rather than the improvement that the world is expecting from an Olympic host,” Nicholas Bequelin of Human Rights Watch said.
The International PEN, which champions writers’ freedoms, urged Presidentto free 40 jailed dissident writers, including Ching, ahead of the .
In an open letter to Hu, thesaid Ching suffered from arrhythmia and recently learned that his health had deteriorated in jail.