Australian journalist Cheng Lei, who has been detained in China for over 19 months, will face court in Beijing on state secrets charges next Thursday, according to sources close to the case.
Illegally sharing state secrets
Lei, who worked as a television anchor for Chinese state media for a decade before being detained in August 2020, was formally arrested a year ago on allegations of illegally supplying state secrets overseas.
She will be tried in the Beijing No 2 People’s Intermediate Court at 9am next Thursday, confirmed Reuters with sources who did not want to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Australia has previously expressed its concern over the lack of transparency in the case, and Cheng’s family have said they believe she is innocent. China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but had previously said that Cheng’s rights were being fully guaranteed.
Cheng was born in China but moved with her parents to Australia as a child. She built a television career in China, first with CNBC and later as a television anchor for China’s English-language channel CGTN, and is a high-profile member of the Australian community in Beijing.
The case has put a strain on diplomatic relations between Australia and China, which have been strained in recent years.
In 2020, Australia called for an international investigation into the source of the pandemic, which led to trade reprisals from Beijing.
A spokeswoman for the family told the ABC last year that she believed Cheng would not have done anything intentionally to harm China’s state security. Australia’s foreign affairs department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Widespread media concerns
The detainment of Cheng Lei has been met with widespread concern and criticism from media organisations and human rights groups, who have called for her release and for her fair treatment.
Her case highlights the increasing pressure and restrictions on foreign journalists working in China, as well as the risk of arbitrary detention and lack of due process for foreigners in the country.
Lei’s arrest has also been met with a lot of criticism from the Australian government and human rights organisations, who have called for her release and fair treatment.
The Australian government has repeatedly called on the Chinese government to provide more information about the charges against Cheng and to guarantee her rights and well-being.
The case has also highlighted the growing pressure and restrictions on foreign journalists working in China, as well as the risk of arbitrary detention and lack of due process for foreigners in the country.
The case of Cheng Lei is not an isolated one, as there has been a growing number of foreigners who have been detained in China on charges of espionage or other national security offences.
In recent years, the Chinese government has been increasingly cracking down on foreign individuals and organisations, accusing them of espionage or other national security offences.
This has led to concerns about the use of these charges as a means of silencing critics and suppressing dissent, as well as the lack of transparency and due process in these cases.
The trial of Cheng Lei will be closely watched by the international community, and the outcome will likely have significant implications for the relationship between Australia and China.