Chinese journalist Zhao Yan, a former reporter with a Beijing newspaper, has been sentenced to three years in prison for fraud, according to sources from the No. 2 Intermediate People's Court of Beijing on Friday.
But he was found not guilty of releasing state secrets after the court ruled the prosecutors did not provide sufficient evidence to support this charge.
International media have reported that Zhao was suspected of providing state secrets to the New York Times.
The court also ordered him to pay 2,000 yuan (250 U.S. dollars) in fines and to pay back 20,000 yuan (2,500 U.S. dollars) he had gained through fraudulent means.
Xinhua was provided with a document by the court that provided only the following details of the proceedings.
The document says in 2001 Zhao traveled to Jilin to investigate a story for the Beijing newspaper "Baixing Xinbao" involving a man named Feng Shanchen, who had been given a punishment of one and a half years in a labour camp by the local authorities in Songyuan City, northeast China's Jilin Province.
According to the document, Feng believed the penalty to be unjust and turned to Zhao for help. Zhao reportedly lied that he had connections with the "Legislative Affairs Bureau of the State Council" and if Feng paid him 20,000 yuan, he would be able to rescind the punishment. But Zhao is said to have taken the money but did not keep to his promise.
The document says that the court had fully protected Zhao's procedural rights during the trial. He was defended by himself and two other defence lawyers.
"Baixing Xinbao", a subsidiary paper of "Legal Daily", started publication in January 2000 but was closed down in December 2001 for losing money.