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Last Updated: Friday, 1 December 2006, 09:38 GMT
China NY Times man loses appeal
New York Times researcher Zhao Yan (photo courtesy New York Times)
Zhao Yan has been held for more than two years (image: New York Times)
A Chinese researcher for the New York Times has lost his appeal against a three year jail sentence for fraud.

The verdict against Zhao Yan was upheld by the Beijing High Court, defence lawyer Guan Anping said.

In August, Zhao Yan was convicted of defrauding a rural official of $2,500 in 2001 - a charges he denies.

He was unexpectedly acquitted of the more serious charge of leaking state secrets after the court decided there was insufficient evidence.

Mr Guan said the outcome of the appeal was "very regrettable", adding that the defence team were not allowed to present witnesses or evidence.

"This case has not been handled in accordance with the law... they did not respect the criminal law," he added.

Strained relations

Prosecutors had claimed Mr Zhao, 44, demanded the money on the false promise he could use his connections to help a man avoid labour camp.

Mr Zhao's lawyers say he was convicted solely on the testimony of one man, and say a witness who could testify on his behalf was not allowed to give evidence.

Sept 2004: Zhao Yan arrested in Shanghai
Dec 2005: Charged with leaking state secrets and fraud
Mar 06: Charges dropped ahead of Hu Jintao's US visit
May 06: Beijing prosecutors reinstate charges
Aug 06: Jailed for three years for fraud

The case has caused tensions between China and the US, analysts say.

Washington has repeatedly calling on Beijing to release Mr Zhao, who has been held by the Chinese authorities since September 2004.

Mr Zhao is thought to have originally been detained in connection with a New York Times report about plans by ex-President Jiang Zemin to retire from his top military post.

At the time, Mr Jiang's intention would have been a closely guarded secret, and any leak regarded as a serious offence.

Before joining the New York Times Mr Zhao, a Chinese citizen, worked for the magazine China Reform, where he wrote reports criticising abuse of poor farmers by officials.

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