China formally arrests Chinese-Australian reporter for spying

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China has formally arrested a Chinese-born Australian journalist for CGTN, the English-language channel of China Central Television, on suspicion of illegally supplying state secrets overseas, Australia’s foreign minister said Monday.

Ms. Lei was born in China but later became an Australian citizen. Lei was working as a news anchor on a business show on CGTN.

The bad relations between the countries is heating up. China let Australia know they would pay a price for initiating an investigation into the origins of the China Virus. Perhaps this is more of the paybacks.

The arrest of Cheng Lei last Friday starts an official criminal investigation and came six months after she was detained.

“The Australian government has raised its serious concerns about Ms. Cheng’s detention regularly at senior levels, including about her welfare and conditions of detention,” Foreign Minister Marise Payne said.

“We expect basic standards of justice, procedural fairness and humane treatment to be met, in accordance with international norms,” she added.

“We hope that Australia will earnestly respect China’s judicial sovereignty and refrain from interfering in China’s law-based handling of cases in any way,” ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a daily briefing.

Ms. Lei could spend her life in prison or face execution.

Cheng’s two children, aged 9 and 11, are living with their grandmother in Melbourne, Australia, the journalist’s niece, Louisa Wen, said. Reports say they are devastated and confused/

WARNED OF THE RISKS OF ARBITRARY DETENTION

A month before Cheng was detained on Aug. 13, Australia warned its citizens of a risk of arbitrary detention in China. China dismissed the warning as disinformation.

Before the last two journalists working for Australian media in China left the country in September, they were questioned by Chinese authorities about Cheng.

Australian Broadcasting Corp. reporter Bill Birtles and The Australian Financial Review’s Michael Smith were told they were “persons of interest” in an investigation into Cheng.

“I believe the episode was more one of harassment of the remaining Australian journalists rather than a genuine effort to try and get anything useful for that case,” Birtles said after returning to Sydney.

Cheng was the second high-profile Australian citizen to be held in Beijing after writer Yang Hengjun was arrested in January 2019 on suspicion of espionage.

Her detention raised alarm among foreign journalists in China and two other Australian reporters – Bill Birtles and Michael Smith – fled the country last September shortly after being questioned about Cheng.

This is what Democrats want here — a communist state.


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