Foreign Minister Penny Wong vows to keep working to free Aussie journo Cheng Lei from Chinese jail

Foreign Minister Penny Wong vows to keep working to free Aussie journo Cheng Lei from Chinese jail
Imprisoned Australian journalist Cheng Lei with the children she hasn’t seen for two years. Photo: AAP Live

Foreign Minister Penny Wong has pledged she will not give up the fight to win freedom for an Australian TV journalist and mother of two who has spent the past two years in a Chinese prison.

Cheng Lei, a one-time high-profile presenter on China Global Television Network, was detained in Beijing in August 2020 and later formally arrested.

In March, the 46-year-old faced a closed trial in Beijing on charges of illegally supplying state secrets overseas.

Australia’s Ambassador to China, Graham Fletcher, was barred from attending the court hearing and China has not provided details of its outcome.

Senator Wong on Saturday said it was now “two years since Australian citizen Cheng Lei was detained in China”.

“Our thoughts today are with Ms Cheng’s family, including her two young children, with whom she has had no contact since she was detained,” she said in a statement.

Call for ‘basic standards of justice’

“Since Ms Cheng was detained in August 2020, the Australian government has consistently called for basic standards of justice, procedural fairness and humane treatment to be met, in accordance with international norms.

“We will continue to support Ms Cheng and her family, and to advocate for Ms Cheng’s interests and wellbeing.”

The comments come after the foreign minister raised Ms Cheng’s case with her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Bali last month.

In June, Chinese ambassador to Australia, Xiao Qian, said that when cases of Australians detained in China involved national security they usually were not conducted openly, and urged Australia to respect China’s legal process.

-AAP

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