The family of an Australian journalist who has been detained in China for almost 1,000 days makes a sincere plea
- Cheng Lei was arrested in 2020 and held awaiting trial
- Accused of ‘illegally providing state secrets abroad’
- Details of the allegations have never been disclosed
The family of an Australian journalist who spent nearly 1,000 days behind bars in Beijing has appealed to the Chinese government for her release.
Cheng Lei, 47, was a high-profile television anchor for CGTN, an English-language state television channel aimed at a foreign audience, until August 2020, when she was arrested and charged with “illegally providing state secrets abroad.”
The exact details of the charges against her have never been revealed, despite the two and a half years she spent behind bars.
Cheng Lei, who moved to Melbourne with her family as a child, has been trapped in China for more than two years
On Sunday, her partner Nick Coyle told the Australian Financial Review: “A thousand days is a shockingly long time and I would call on the relevant authorities in China to resolve this terrible situation as quickly as possible.”
Ms Cheng is not allowed to speak to her children, aged 14 and 11, who live in Melbourne with her mother.
On Sunday, her partner Nick Coyle told the Australian financial statement“A thousand days is a shockingly long time and I call on the competent authorities in China to resolve this terrible situation as soon as possible.”
‘Honest Australians, from business leaders to political leaders and the general public, do not accept the status quo.’
Ms Cheng was tried in a closed-door hearing in March, but the court has yet to rule. A verdict that was due in April was again postponed by three months.
Her supporters hoped that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese could visit China later this year to secure her release, but Beijing has not indicated it is willing to let her go.
Mr Coyle said his partner is in ‘good health’ but separating from her children has been challenging.
“The longer this drags on, she really feels it with the kids. That’s really hard,” he told the publication.
In March, Australian Foreign Secretary Penny Wong said her government had “advised on every occasion for Ms Cheng’s reunification with her family”. She is depicted with the Chinese counterpart Wang Yi
Her only contact with the outside world is one consular visit per month. She is also allowed to write letters to Mr. Coyle and her family, which are passed through the representative of the Australian Embassy in Beijing.
In March, Australian Foreign Secretary Penny Wong said her government had “advised on every occasion for Ms Cheng’s reunification with her family”.
“She is still waiting for the outcome of the trial,” Ms Wong said.
“We share the deep concerns of Ms. Cheng’s family and friends about the continued delays in her case.”
China’s ambassador to Australia, Xiao Qian, said in January that he hoped her case would be resolved as soon as possible, but we must respect legal process.
Under Chinese criminal law, providing state secrets can carry penalties of five to 10 years if the matter is considered minor.
A case deemed ‘serious’ carries a prison sentence of 10 years to life. Chinese courts have a 99 percent conviction rate.