AUSSIE JOURNALIST FORMALLY ARRESTED IN CHINA AFTER 6 MONTHS IN JAIL
An Australian journalist who has been detained for nearly six months in China where she worked for a state-television channel has been formally arrested on suspicion of illegally supplying state secrets overseas, the two countries said on Monday, Kristy Needham reported for Reuters.
The announcement came as the family of Cheng Lei, 49, pleaded with authorities to grant the former high-profile news anchor access to her two school-age children.
“We are absolutely convinced of her innocence,” a family representative said in an emailed statement to Reuters.
“We respect China’s judicial process and urge the authorities bring this matter to a swift, compassionate and timely conclusion.”
Cheng was arrested on Feb. 5, Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said separately on Monday.
The journalist was born in China but moved with her parents to Australia as a child, and attended university in Queensland.
Her children, aged nine and 11, were visiting their grandparents in Australia during school closures in Beijing caused by the COVID-19 pandemic when she was detained.