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Chinese Official: Speedy Verdict Expected for Ching Cheong

A Chinese official says he expects a speedy verdict after the one-day trial of a Hong Kong-based journalist accused of espionage.

A Hong Kong-based radio network quotes the deputy director of Beijing's Liaison Office, Li Gong, as saying Wednesday verdict for Ching Cheong will be delivered in a few days. He said Ching's rights had been duly protected.

The press rights group Reporters Without Borders has voiced outrage at the trial, asking what credible judicial system would try someone for a crime punishable by death in such a short trial. Tuesday's proceedings lasted only a few hours.

Ching has been in detention for 16 months. Before his arrest in April 2005, he was the chief China correspondent for Singapore's Straits Times newspaper. He was later formally charged with spying for Taiwan.

Meanwhile, a human rights organization says a Chinese academic has gone on trial in connection with alleged links to Ching.

Hong Kong's Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said Lu Jianhua's trial was held Wednesday in the same courtroom where the reporter was tried one day earlier.

Lu is a leading sociologist in China and was detained after Ching's arrest. It is not clear what charges he faces.

Court officials have not commented on either case. Most Chinese trials involving espionage and state security issues take place in secret.

The United States has expressed concern about the charges against Ching, noting that freedom of the press is a fundamental and internationally recognized right.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.