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Journalist Jiang Weiping released from prison after five years

(CPJ/IFEX) - The following is a 3 January 2006 CPJ press release:

CHINA: Journalist Jiang Weiping released from prison after five years

New York, January 3, 2006 - The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release today of journalist Jiang Weiping, who has been jailed for five years for writing about corruption in his home province of Liaoning. CPJ honored Jiang in 2001 with an International Press Freedom Award.

"In the four years since we honored Jiang Weiping for his courage, we have campaigned actively for his release," said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. "While we welcome Jiang's release, his detention shows the arbitrariness of the Chinese criminal justice system. Jiang did his country a great service by exposing corruption for which he paid with five years of his life. We call on the Chinese to stop imprisoning journalists for their work and to release those who remain behind bars."

Jiang's wife Li Yanling told CPJ her husband had been released one year early for good behavior.

Jiang, a former northeast China bureau chief for the Hong Kong-based Wen Hui Bao newspaper, was arrested in December 2000 after writing a series of articles for the Hong Kong publication Qianshao, exposing corruption among senior officials in northeastern Chinese cities.

In September 2001, the Dalian Intermediate Court secretly tried Jiang and later sentenced him to eight years in prison on charges of "revealing state secrets" and "inciting to subvert state power." On December 26, 2002, the Liaoning Province Higher People's Court upheld the guilty verdict but reduced the sentence to six years.

CPJ believes that Jiang was targeted for arrest by local officials who were angered by his investigations into corruption. In his articles, Jiang reported that Shenyang Vice Mayor Ma Xiangdong had lost nearly 30 million Yuan (US $3.6 million) in public funds gambling in Macau casinos. Jiang also reported that Bo Xilai, now China's trade minister, had covered up corruption among his friends and family during his years as Dalian mayor.

Ma was later arrested and accused of taking bribes, embezzling public funds, and gambling overseas, as part of the government's anti-corruption campaign. He was executed for these crimes in December 2001.

Since Jiang was detained in December 2000, CPJ has aggressively advocated for his release. In February 2002, CPJ sent appeals to Chinese President Jiang Zemin from almost 600 supporters - including CBS news anchor Dan Rather, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, and former U.S. Ambassador to China Winston Lord - demanding Jiang's unconditional release. That month, U.S. President George W. Bush highlighted Jiang's case in meetings with Jiang Zemin during a state visit to China.

CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.cpj.org.

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