New Delhi: Australian journalist and T.V. anchor Cheng Lei was formally arrested on Feburary 5th said Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne on Monday. She was detained in August last year, for supplying state secrets overseas. Payne said according to a Reuters report, that 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.”
Who is Cheng Lei
Cheng Lei is a Chinese born, Australian journalist. She served as a news anchor for Chinese state owned English-language news channel CGTN in Beijing from 2012 to 2020. Cheng has reported on major events in China such as Beijing’s 2008 Summer Olympics and Shanghai’s 2010 World Expo. In mid-August she was detained by the Chinese authorities under the suspension that she was carrying state secrets and “endangering China’s national security”. According to ABC, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Cheng was “suspected of carrying out criminal activities endangering China’s national security.” Payne said Cheng was visited six times during her detentions, most recently at the end of January. She has two children living in Australia.
In an ABC news report, Payne was quoted as saying “We have made a number of consular visits to her as part of our bilateral consular agreement — the most recent of those was on the 27th of January — and we continue to seek assurances of her being treated appropriately, humanely and in accordance with international standards, and that will continue to be the case.”
Since 2020, tensions between Australia and China have been high especially after Canberra called for an international investigation into the source of the coronavirus pandemic and Beijing responded with trade reprisals. According to Reuters, China’s Foreign Ministry revealed that Australia’s security agency had questioned Chinese journalists working in Australia.