A journalist from China Central Television was sentenced yesterday to three years in prison with a four-year reprieve for accepting a bribe in northern Shanxi province.
The Xinghualing District Court in Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi, convicted Li Min of accepting 37,000 yuan ($5,400) and using her job to lobby for a suspect in a case being investigated by the Xinghualing procuratorate last October.
Li's lawyer said she would not appeal the sentence.
Li, 31, is among several journalists charged recently with accepting bribes, an action that has been criticized as an attempt to hinder the work of journalists.
The court proceedings were closed to the public, however it was previously reported that the bribe was a car worth about 200,000 yuan given to her by her boyfriend, who was the suspect's brother.
It has not been revealed why Li was convicted of receiving a 37,000 bribe instead of a 200,000 bribe.
Previous media reports said Li first visited the Xinghualing procuratorate to report on a dispute between Wu Xiaohui, general manager of Zhongming Real Estate Company in Guangdong province and Hao Jianxiu, general manager of Jianfeng Group in Shanxi province.
Wu Xiaohui had been arrested three times for bribery and later released for lack of evidence. After his release, Wu told the provincial public security bureau and discipline watchdog that the local procuratorate was abusing its power. Wu was arrested again in November.
Wu Xiaohui's brother, Wu Xiaohua, met Li in July 2008 and the two started a relationship.
In November, Li filed a CCTV report that the Xinghualing procuratorate was abusing its power by prosecuting Wu Xiaohui.
On Dec 4 last year, Li was detained on suspicion of accepting bribes from Wu Xiaohua.
Commenting on the sentence yesterday, lawyer Zhou Ze, who did not represent Li in the trial, said only civil servants and employees of State-owned companies could be charged with accepting bribes.
Zhou said Li is a reporter and could not be charged under this law.
He said the district procuratorate had a conflict of interest in charging Li.
Zhan Jiang, a professor with the China Youth University for Political Sciences, said press workers need to be protected under a press law.
In May this year, Beijing reporter Fu Hua was charged after he accepted money from two whistleblowers with a tip-off on airport construction quality.
Fu confirmed that he accepted a 15,000 yuan payment during the investigation but insisted the money was not a bribe because his reports were "true and objective".
Guan Jian, a Beijing journalist for Beijing-based China Internet Weekly, was also detained on suspicion of taking bribes by local authorities during his stay in Shanxi province in December last year.