His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People’s Republic of China
Procurator General Mr. Jia Chunwang
Supreme People’s Procuratorate
Beiheyan Street 147
P.R.China Oslo, 30 August 2006
The Writers in Prison Committee of Norwegian PEN welcomes the announcement on 17 March 2006 that the charge of revealing state secrets has been dropped against journalist Zhao Yan, but is seriously concerned that he has not been released.
Zhao Yan, news assistant at the Beijing bureau of the New York Times and former reporter for China Reform magazine, was arrested on 17 September 2004 and charged with “providing state secrets to foreigners”. He was charged for an article published in the New York Times on 7 September 2004 revealing Jiang Zemin’s retirement from the position of Chairman of the Central Military Commission and the transfer of leadership to President Hu Jintao. The article preceded the official announcement about Jiang’s retirement, which was made on 19 September 2004. The New York Times said that Zhao had no involvement whatsoever in the article. Zhao was also indicted on the lesser charge of fraud, which is still under investigation.
Norwegian PEN demands his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.
Hoping that you, Your Excellencies, will take immediate action to set Zhao Yan free, I remain,
Elisabet W. Middelthon
Chair Writers in Prison Committee
Carl Morten Iversen
secretary general Norwegian PEN
The Chinese Embassy, Oslo
The Norwegian Embassy, Beijing
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oslo