Journalist imprisoned for fraud
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-08-26 09:16

BEIJING: Journalist Zhao Yan, a former reporter at a Beijing newspaper, has been sentenced to three years' imprisonment for fraud, according to sources from the No 2 Intermediate People's Court of Beijing on Friday.

But he was found not guilty of disclosing State secrets after the court ruled the prosecutors did not provide sufficient evidence to support this charge.

The international media had reported that Zhao was suspected of providing State secrets to the New York Times.

The court also ordered him to pay 2,000 yuan (US$250) in fines and to pay back 20,000 yuan (US$2,500) he had gained through fraudulent means.

Xinhua News Agency was provided with a document by the court which revealed that, in 2001, Zhao travelled to Northeast China's Jilin Province to investigate a story for the Beijing newspaper "Baixing Xinbao" involving a man named Feng Shanchen, who had been sentenced to one-and-a-half years by the local authorities in Songyuan, a city in Jilin.

According to the document, Feng believed the penalty to be unjust and turned to Zhao for help.

Zhao reportedly lied that he had connections with the "Legislative Affairs Bureau of the State Council" and if Feng paid him 20,000 yuan, he would be able to rescind the punishment.

Zhao is said to have taken the money but did not keep his promise.

The document says that the court had fully protected Zhao's procedural rights during the trial. He was defended by himself and two other defence lawyers.

Baixing Xinbao, a subsidiary of Legal Daily, started publication in January 2000 but the loss-making paper was closed down in December 2001.

(China Daily 08/26/2006 page2)