Call to release jailed press

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The Independent Online
PRESIDENT Bill Clinton has been urged to press for the release of journalists imprisoned in China during his visit in an open letter from the French-based organisation Reporters sans Frontieres (RsF).

RsF, which campaigns for press freedom, called on Mr Clinton to use his influence during talks with Chinese officials and with President Jiang Zemin, to secure the release of at least 12 journalists jailed in China "simply because they did their work honestly, or expressed opinions peacefully".

The appeal draws his attention in particular to the case of Gao Yu, who was arrested on 2 October 1993 and who is serving a six-year prison sentence for having revealed "state secrets to people outside China", the appeal said.

RsF said it had information that she has life-threatening heart problems and that the only drugs she was allowed were those brought by relatives on monthly visits.

The organisation calls on President Clinton to do everything in his power to persuade the Chinese authorities, as they have undertaken to do, to sign and ratify the UN Declaration on Human Rights, Article 19, which states that: "Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference."