U.S. blasts China for detaining reporter

May 31, 2005 at 5:15 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 31 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department Tuesday said it was concerned over the detention of a Hong Kong-based journalist last month for spying.

The Chinese government Tuesday defended arresting and detaining Ching Cheong, the chief China correspondent for the Singapore Straits Times newspaper, saying he had admitted to spying.

Cheong was detained by state security agents April 22 in Guangzhou, his wife said in a Washington Post story Monday.

"We are concerned about the reports and about this case," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

The Straits Times said Ching contacted the newspaper on April 28 about his arrest, but the newspaper did not reveal his detention until Monday.

The Financial Times said Ching holds a British national (Overseas) passport, and is being questioned by the Chinese police for acquiring a manuscript of unpublished interviews with Zhao Ziyang, the former Communist party chief purged for opposing the events in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Ching is the second employee of a foreign news organization to be detained in the past year. A New York Times researcher, who is a Chinese citizen, was arrested earlier for allegedly disclosing state secrets.

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