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Journalist Lü Gengsong sentenced for "inciting subversion of state power"

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

CPJ welcomes the release of Straits Times reporter Ching Cheong, but deplores sentencing of Internet journalist Lü Gengsong

Hong Kong, February 5 2008 ­ The Committee to Protect Journalists released this statement today after Ching Cheong, the veteran China correspondent for the Singapore-based Straits Times, was released on parole and returned to Hong Kong from China. Ching was arrested in April 2005 and a year later was given a five-year sentence for espionage, a charge he and his wife, Mary Lau, have always denied.

But also today, Internet journalist Lü Gengsong was sentenced to four years in jail for "inciting subversion of state power," according to his lawyer Mo Shaoping. Lü was sentenced today after a one-day closed-door trial in on January 22 in Hangzhou, southeast China.

"We are happy that China has made the sensible and gracious decision to allow Ching Cheong to return to his family and friends in time for the Chinese New Year celebration," said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator.

"But the good cheer brought about by Ching's release is soured by reports that Lü Gengsong has been sentenced to four years in jail on vague charges like "inciting subversion of state power," Dietz said.

"We hope that in this coming year in which China will host the Olympic Games, that the government will grant the same freedom to Lü and the 28 other journalists who still remain behind bars," said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator.

CPJ has posted an online petition calling for the release of all of China's jailed journalists.

The Committee to Protect Journalists is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.cpj.org

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