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REPORTER jailed for articles exposing official corruption


BEIJING (AP) _ A reporter who wrote about corruption in northeast China has been sentenced to four years in prison for leaking state secrets, an editor at a magazine where he worked said Wednesday.

Veteran journalist Jiang Weiping was arrested late last year, said Su Li-wen, chief editor of Hong Kong's Front-Line Magazine.

Editors at the magazine learned of his sentencing but have been unable to contact him, Su said.

Jiang wrote a pair of 1999 articles in Front-Line about graft that alleged the powerful governor of Liaoning province, Bo Xilai, had covered up corruption among friends and high officials.

Jiang, a Chinese citizen, was the supervisor of the Dalian office of pro-China Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po and a contributor to Front-Line, Su said.

A staff member at the paper's Liaoning office said Jiang quit sometime before the beginning of the year. The man, who refused to give his name, said he had no idea of Jiang's whereabouts. A secretary at the paper's Beijing bureau said Jiang now wrote ``very infrequently'' for the paper.

Jiang had also worked for the government-run Xinhua News Agency during the 1980s but quit about a decade ago, said a Xinhua staffer who gave only his surname, Li.

China's government has declared war on corruption but locks up independent whistle-blowers, fearing the exposure could loosen the Communist Party's grip on power.

Liaoning lies astride China's rust belt, where ailing state industries have laid off millions of workers and corruption thrives.

In one of the highest profile cases, the mayor of the provincial capital, Shenyang, has been accused of taking bribes and a former deputy of allegedly squandering millions of dollars in government money gambling in Macau.

Jiang, 45, was arrested on Dec. 12 in Dalian and indicted in June, said a Hong Kong-based human rights group.

His case is being handled secretly by judge Zhang Minpeng at the Intermediary Court in Dalian, the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said.

Dalian prosecutors said they had not heard of Jiang. A man answering the phone at Zhang Minpeng's desk refused to comment.

In southwestern China meanwhile, a court again suspended the subversion trial of an Internet entrepreneur that was put on hold in February while Olympic inspectors visited Beijing.

Reached by telephone in Chengdu in Sichuan province, lawyer Fan Jun said no reason was given for the delay in the trial of his client, Huang Qi.

Huang went on trial in February, nine months after his arrest, charged with publishing subversive documents online.

However, proceedings were immediately suspended while inspectors from the International Olympic Committee visited Beijing to assess the Chinese capital's bid to host the 2008 Olympics.

China is determined to muzzle free discussion on the Internet while exploiting the medium's commercial potential.
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