The Australian government stated that an Australian journalist arrested in China six months ago was formally arrested for “illegally divulging state secrets abroad”. Cheng Lei has worked for the official English-speaking Chinese station CGTN, and has been imprisoned for no apparent reason since August 14.
Australian Foreign Minister Maryse Payne said that the Chinese authorities informed her that Cheng was officially arrested on February 5, after she disappeared from view last August. “The Chinese authorities have reported the arrest of Ms. Cheng on suspicion of illegally disclosing state secrets abroad,” Pine said in a statement. statement.
Relations between China and Australia deteriorated after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an international investigation into the origin of the Coronavirus. Australia has also excluded Chinese telecoms giant Huawei from participating in the rollout of 5G and has passed a law to counter foreign interference, particularly from China. Since then, Beijing has imposed multiple trade sanctions against Australia.
Payne said Australian diplomats have visited Cheng six times since her arrest, most recently on January 27. “The Australian government has regularly expressed serious concerns about Ms. Cheng’s detention at a high level, including her welfare and conditions of detention,” she said. “We expect that basic standards of fairness and fairness in humane procedures and treatment, in accordance with international standards, will be met.”
Cheng was the second high-ranking Australian citizen to be held in Beijing after writer Yang Hing Jun was arrested in January 2019 on suspicion of espionage. The journalist has written a number of Facebook posts criticizing Chinese President Xi Jinping and China’s approach to the coronavirus outbreak.
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