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New York Times distances itself from Chinese "muckraker"
New York Times encourages western style competitive reporting. Chinese journalist obtains inside information, and editors in New York run the news. Then reporter is arrested for breaking Chinese law. The New York Times showed the same recklessness in "The Killing Fields" where they deserted a local translator to the Pol Pot re-education camps. "Muckraker" is not a type of journalist employed by the Times, even when they rake muck, so they seem to be backing off from the journalist whom they relied upon for the insider news.|
Never trust an organization, an organization has no loyalty to anyone or anything.
December 24, 2005
China Indicts Times Researcher, Saying He Disclosed State Secrets
By JIM YARDLEY
BEIJING, Dec. 23 - A Chinese researcher for The New York Times was indicted Friday on charges of disclosing state secrets to the newspaper and on a lesser charge of fraud, a move that should send the case to trial within six weeks, his lawyer said.
The researcher, Zhao Yan, 43, who worked in the paper's Beijing bureau, has spent 15 months in prison without a hearing. The formal indictment is significant because such a move on charges relating to state secrets is usually tan$$ount to conviction in China.
Mr. Zhao, who has denied the charges, could face a minimum of 10 years in prison.
"For Zhao Yan's colleagues, family and friends, this is deeply disheartening," said Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times. Mr. Keller lobbied the Foreign Ministry on Mr. Zhao's behalf in October during a visit to Beijing.
"We've seen no evidence whatsoever that he is guilty of anything but honest journalism," Mr. Keller added.
Mr. Zhao's arrest is directly linked to an article in The Times on Sept. 7, 2004, that disclosed that the former president, Jiang Zemin, had unexpectedly offered to resign his last leadership post as chief of the military. The ruling Communist Party is acutely sensitive to any reporting on the secretive inner workings of the leadership.
The Times has denied that Mr. Zhao was a source for the article.
Mr. Zhao's arrest has brought China widespread international condemnation, including criticism from the United States government. In September, President Bush included Mr. Zhao on a list of troubling human rights cases that he handed to President ^^ ^^ during a meeting in New York. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has also criticized Mr. Zhao's arrest.
Two weeks ago the international advocacy group Reporters Without Borders named Mr. Zhao journalist of the year.
Mr. Zhao's lawyer, Mo Shaoping, said the belabored manner in which the case had been handled might indicate uncertainty by prosecutors. Twice, prosecutors in Beijing sent the case back to the State Security Bureau for further investigation. Under Chinese law, Friday was the last working day for prosecutors to decide whether to go forward with the case.
"There is a question as to whether they have full confidence in their own evidence," Mr. Mo said by telephone from Yulin, in western China, where he is working on another case.
Mr. Mo said he had been notified of the indictment but had not yet received a copy of the formal indictment letter. He expects the letter to be filed in court next week and to include a list of evidence in the case. Under China's rules of procedure, Mr. Mo said, a trial must be held within six weeks, though prosecutors can ask for an extension of one month.
The indictment letter would also indicate whether prosecutors had decided to charge Mr. Zhao with disclosing a juemi, a high-level state secret, as has been recommended by state security agents. If so, he would face at least 10 years in prison. Disclosing lesser categories of state secrets brings lighter sentences.
The fraud charge was added several months after Mr. Zhao's arrest and is connected to allegations from 2001, before his employment with The Times. Investigators contend that he took money for offering to write a story in a Chinese newspaper. A witness has come forward disputing the charge, and Mr. Mo has denied it.
Usually, a trial involving state secrets is closed, and it is unclear whether Mr. Mo will be allowed to mount an aggressive defense. He has indicated that he will try to call Joseph Kahn, The Times's bureau chief here, as a defense witness. But foreigners are not allowed in such proceedings, much less foreign journalists.
Once a muckraking journalist who exposed official corruption and wrote about the abuses endured by farmers, Mr. Zhao started working for The Times in Beijing in April 2004. He was arrested on Sept. 17, after state security agents tracked him to a Pizza Hut in Shanghai. He is now in jail in Beijing.
Agents had identified him as a target after a high-level investigation was ordered in response to the article in The Times about Mr. Jiang.
That article, written by Mr. Kahn, cited two anonymous sources in reporting Mr. Jiang's offer to resign. (Mr. Jiang later did resign the military post.) The Times has said that Mr. Zhao was neither a source nor a conduit for a source.
According to a confidential state security report, the key piece of evidence is a photocopy of a handwritten note that Mr. Zhao wrote to Mr. Kahn two months before the publication of the article. The note describes some jockeying between Mr. Jiang and Mr. Hu over military appointments. Mr. Kahn later included a reference to such jockeying as background material in one of the final paragraphs in the Sept. 7 article.
A central question is how state security agents obtained the photocopy. The original note remains in The Times's office in Beijing, suggesting either that agents entered the office without permission or enlisted someone to help them make a copy. In either instance, the note should not be admissible under Chinese law, legal experts say.
Mr. Zhao's arrest was part of a broader crackdown on the media in China. In April a Chinese newspaper reporter, Shi Tao, was given 10 years in jail after being convicted of giving state secrets to foreigners. That same month Ching Cheong, a Hong Kong-based reporter for a Singapore newspaper, was detained and later charged with spying for Taiwan.