The 17-member U.S. group met with Vice Premier Li Lanqing in the Great Hall of the People near Tiananmen Square in Beijing and requested the release of Gao Yu, who was arrested in 1993 one day before leaving for a Columbia University School of Journalism fellowship in New York and jailed for for spying after her conviction in a closed trial.
Li chided the group for mentioning the woman and refused to intervene "on behalf of criminals."
ASNE president William Ketter, editor of the Quincy (Mass.) Patriot Ledger, said more than 26 Chinese journalists are serving time behind bars either because of their views or their involvement in the democracy movement in Tiananmen Square six years ago.
"To arrest and imprison journalists whose only sin is to write critically about the government or advocate democracy is a backward notion in today's world community" Ketter said.
Gao, 51, was among the first journalists arrested after the uprising and was released in August 1990 for health reasons. She started as a reporter for China News Service in 1979 and later was deputy editor of Economics Weekly, a paper run by dissident intellectuals. She won the Golden Pen of Freedom Award in May from the International Federation of Newspaper publishers.
The American editors are traveling to South Korea, China, Hong Kong and Vietnam on a three-week fact-finding trip.
By: Editorial Staff A DELEGATION FROM the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) has asked China to free a woman journalist who was sentenced to six years in prison last year for spying.