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China sets trial date for NY Times researcher

Written by: Staff

BEIJING, June 13 (Reuters) The trial of a New York Times researcher accused by China of leaking state secrets and fraud will begin on Friday after being postponed from last week, his lawyers said today.

Zhao Yan, who has been in custody since September 2004, will be pleading not guilty on both charges, the lawyers said.

''It's the same charges as before,'' said Guan Anping, one of Zhao's lawyers.

''But we've asked the court to hold the trial in two separate sections so that at least the second charge can be heard in public,'' he said, referring to the fraud charge.

The state secret trial is likely to be held in secret, Guan said.

China dropped the charges against Zhao in March, weeks before President Hu Jintao visited the United States, raising hopes of his release.

But the case was revived in mid-May when prosecutors notified Mo Shaoping, Zhao's other lawyer, that it had been transferred to the Beijing Second Intermediate Court.

It is unclear why the trial was delayed last week.

''The court might announce the results the same day, but the possibility is not large, especially in a case like this,'' Mo said by telephone.

''It is hard to predict the outcome. From our point of view, we have a strong legal basis. But sometimes, something beyond the law could affect the result,'' he said without elaborating.

''Zhao Yan does not feel so good -- that is obvious and imaginable. He told us that his health is not good,'' Mo said.

Guan added that he saw Zhao last week, and would see him again tomorrow.

''His emotions have improved since the last time I saw him and now he's also thinking about the trial and mentally preparing for it,'' said Guan.

The state security apparatus has accused Zhao of telling the New York Times details of the rivalry between Hu and his predecessor, Jiang Zemin. He faces a maximum 10-year jail term if convicted.


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