Zhao Yan, the New York Times research based in Beijing who was greatly overshadowed by the comparatively brief jail term served by NYT reporter Judith Miller, will be released after 18 months in isolation in a Chinese prison.
Zhao, 42, who had been held in custody by state security for 18 months, was facing charges of “divulging state secrets”, an offence punishable by the death penalty, and of “fraud”.
He had been accused of giving the news of the political retirement of Jiang Zemin to his newspaper before it was made known officially. The New York Times has always maintained that the news had not come from Zhao.
“We are absolutely delighted at the announcement of the imminent release of Zhao Yan,” the organisation said. “They have finally accepted the innocence of a brave man who became the scapegoat of a government which scorns investigative journalism”.
Can’t think of a better way to close out Sunshine week — an annual call of attention to current threates to open government — than the news of Zhao’s release. He was awarded for Reporters Without Borders.