Jail Term Reduced for Editor of Chinese Paper That Angered Officials

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A jailed editor of a Chinese newspaper known for its aggressive reporting has had his eight-year prison sentence reduced by one year, a Hong Kong newspaper said Thursday.

The news about Yu Huafeng came just weeks after his colleague, Li Minying, was released from prison three years before the end of his six-year sentence, Ming Pao Daily News reported.

Both were convicted of embezzlement and graft. But many believe the charges were trumped up by officials seeking revenge for media reports that embarrassed the local government in the southern province of Guangdong.

The journalists were detained in 2004 after their newspaper, the Southern Metropolitan Daily, reported the beating death of a college graduate in detention. The newspaper also broke the news of a case of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, before Beijing reported it to the World Health Organization.

On Thursday, the Ming Pao quoted Yu’s lawyer, Xu Zhiyong, as saying that the editor’s sentence was reduced by one year after the Beijing Supreme People’s Court decided to review the decision of a lower court in Guangdong. It wasn’t clear why the sentence was reduced.

“The Supreme People’s Court’s decision to review the case with the subordinate court implies that there may be some problems with the case,” Ming Pao quoted the lawyer as saying.

Yu’s wife, Xiang Li, said her husband still insists he is innocent during her monthly jail visits, Ming Pao reported.

A Southern Metropolitan Daily spokesman, who declined to give his name, told The Associated Press the newspaper’s management was on vacation and he was unable to comment on the case.

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