China indicts former presidential aide amid state secrets controversy

Chinese prosecutors have indicted former top presidential aide Ling Jihua on charges of taking bribes, illegally obtaining state secrets and abuse of power, the Supreme People's Procuratorate said Friday.

Ling's proximity to former president Hu Jintao, who was in power from 2003 to 2013, has made him one of the most high-profile targets in President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign.

Ling was also former deputy head of China's national political advisory body, the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

He was first put under investigation for "disciplinary" violations in late 2014, the official Xinhua news agency said.

He also committed adultery and had "traded his power for sex," the government said last year after Ling was formally arrested.

Friday's reports did not mention Ling's brother, Ling Wancheng, who is sought by China's anti-corruption watchdog and is believed to be living in the United States.

It is unclear whether Ling Wancheng has sought asylum in the US. His lawyer denied reports saying Ling Wancheng is in possession of sensitive information including nuclear secrets and personal information about Chinese leaders.

US officials have declined to answer questions about Ling Wancheng but a New York Times report said Washington had rebuffed Chinese requests for Ling's repatriation.

Shortly after taking office three years ago, Xi launched his anti-corruption campaign, targeting both junior and senior officials in China's one-party system.

Dozens of powerful state firms have since come under scrutiny, with many high-ranking functionaries put on trial or brought under investigation.

Last update: Fri, 13/05/2016 - 13:56

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