China’s former security chief, Zhou Yongkang, arrested on charges of corruption and leaking state secrets could be handed a suspended death sentence, reports said Sunday.
Zhou was arrested and expelled from the Communist Party of China (CPC) over the weekend and charged with adultery, taking huge bribes and misusing his position.
Zhou is the senior most official to have been arrested since President Xi Jinping launched his high-profile anti-corruption campaign.
The allegation of leaking state secrets could result in Zhou getting a suspended death sentence, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.
It is this particular allegation that also sets him apart of his protégé Bo Xilai, who is serving a life sentence for abuse of power and corruption.
Zhou, 72, a former internal security chief, retired as the member of the powerful nine-member Standing Committee of the CPC, headed by previous President Hu Jintao in 2012.
“In China, it’s very difficult to define what’s a state secret. As a former member of the party’s Politburo Standing Committee, anything Zhou unwittingly told anyone around him could be a ‘state secret’,” Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based political commentator told SCMP.
It could also mean sharing internal CPC information.
“Zhou leaked the Party’s and country’s secrets. He seriously violated self-disciplinary regulations and accepted a large amount of money and properties personally and through his family,” state media reported, quoting an official statement.