The Chinese government has released Jiang Weiping, an investigative journalist. Mr. Jiang had been serving an eight-year prison sentence that had been reduced to six years for good behavior last year.
Jiang Weiping was arrested in 2000 and charged with "divulging state secrets" and "subversion". The charges were made after he wrote articles for a Hong Kong newspaper on corruption in northeast China. Former Dalian city mayor and current Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai was among those Jiang implicated in the articles.
In its Human Rights Reports on China, the U.S. State Department has repeatedly cited concerns about harassment, detention and imprisonment of journalists for political reasons.
The independent monitoring group "Reporters Without Borders" issued a statement welcoming Mr. Jiang's release, but deplored the fact that he will continue to be deprived of his civil and political rights until January 2009. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says Mr. Jiang's case is one of many that the U.S. has "raised repeatedly with the Chinese government":
"We urge the Chinese government to release all those held for exercising their fundamental right to free speech. . . .While we do welcome the release, we do have remaining concerns about. . . .the ability of a free press to operate in China. We are going to continue to raise those issues with the Chinese government."
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, China -- with some thirty reporters in jail -- has the highest number of imprisoned journalists of any country in the world. Among those imprisoned is Zhao Yan, a researcher for the New York Times newspaper. Mr. Zhao was detained in September 2004, allegedly for revealing state secrets. The charges reportedly are based on allegations that Zhao was the source for a New York Times article concerning former President Jiang Zemin's retirement from his last official post, an allegation which the New York Times denies. Mr. Zhao is still awaiting trial.
Shi Tao, another Chinese journalist, was arrested in April 2005 after sharing an internal message which included official guidance on reporting that Chinese authorities had sent to his magazine, the Contemporary Business News, with a U.S.-based Web site. The message warned of social destabilization associated with the return of dissidents on the fifteenth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Mr. Shi was sentenced to ten years in prison.
The U.S. will continue to support those who have the courage exercise their fundamental rights to free speech in China and elsewhere. As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "The free flow of ideas is the lifeline of liberty."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.