[JURIST] New York Times researcher Zhao Yan [JURIST news archive] was released as anticipated [JURIST report] from a Chinese prison early Saturday after serving three years for fraud. He was reunited with his family and thanked those who had worked for his release. Zhao was formally indicted [JURIST report] in December 2005 after a 2004 New York Times report [text] revealed the resignation of Jiang Zemin as head of the Chinese military before it was formally announced by the government. The charges were dropped in March 2006, but Chinese authorities continued to detain Zhao and later reinstated the charges, a process which Chinese officials maintained was legal [JURIST reports]. A Chinese court ultimately convicted Zhao of taking $2,500 from a village official, but the state secrets counts against him were dismissed.
Human rights groups and journalism advocacy organizations criticized the proceedings against Zhao for being politically motivated and without merit [CPJ alert]. During his trial, Zhaos lawyers were not allowed to call witnesses on his behalf or permitted to cross-examine witnesses for the prosecution. The New York Times has more.