Conflicts & War

Australia PM demands release of journalist detained in Beijing

Sydney, Australia, Aug 12 (EFE).- Australia’s prime minister on Sunday demanded Beijing release Chinese-Australian journalist Cheng Lei on the third anniversary of her arrest.

“Cheng Lei should be released. This is three years too long,” Anthony Albanese told reporters, adding that Australia will keep pressing for her freedom “at the highest levels.”

“We will continue to make that point whenever Australia meets with China. And it is important that her human rights, as an Australian citizen, be respected,” he said.

Cheng, whose sentence remains unknown since she was accused of supplying state secrets overseas and tried behind closed doors last year, is being held in a secret location in Beijing with no contact with her children or relatives.

The 48-year-old journalist, who hosted a television program on Chinese state channel CGTV before her arrest, broke her silence on Thursday with a letter stressing how much she misses her children and describing her confinement.

“I haven’t seen a tree in three years (…) I miss the sun. In my cell, the sunlight shines through the window, but I can stand in it for only 10 hours a year,” she wrote in a letter dictated to an Australian official in Beijing and which was later given to her partner Nick Coyle.

“Most of all, I miss my children,” she added.

Throughout the letter, Cheng described memories of her life in the Oceanian country, to which she moved with her family as a child.

In addition to the television presenter, Australia seeks the release of Chinese-Australian writer Yang Hengjun, arrested in China in 2019 and tried behind closed doors in May 2021 for espionage, with his sentence also unknown.

The tense relationship between Australia and China is experiencing a moment of lukewarm rapprochement after the recent bilateral meetings, the first after several years of stagnation as a result of various diplomatic confrontations between the two countries that, however, maintain extensive bilateral trade. EFE


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