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Cheng Lei, journalist detained for years in China, has returned to Australia

Key Points
  • Australian journalist Cheng Lei has returned to Australia.
  • Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says her case was resolved through China’s legal system.
  • Cheng was in detention for more than three years.
Australian journalist Cheng Lei has returned to Australia after spending three years in detention in Australia.
while working as a news anchor for the Chinese government’s English-language TV channel CGTN, and charged with “illegally supplying state secrets overseas”.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese revealed Foreign Minister Penny Wong met Cheng in Melbourne, where she was reunited with her two children and family on Wednesday morning.

Wong pictured greeting Cheng Lei at Tullamarine Airport, Melbourne. Credit: Sarah Hodges

“Her return brings an end to a very difficult few years for Ms Cheng and her family,” Albanese said.

“When I spoke with her she was delighted to be back in Melbourne.

“The government has been seeking this for a long period of time, and her return will be warmly welcomed not just by her family and friends but by all Australians.”

Anthony Albanese and Xi Jinping shake hands in front of the Chinese and Australia flags.

Albanese says the case was a key point of discussions in talks with China. Source: AAP / Mick Tsikas

Albanese said he had spoken to Cheng personally to welcome her home, and the government would continue to provide consular support to her and her family.

“Our focus remains on her interests and welfare, and we are asking for her privacy and that of her family be respected at this time as she adjusts to what has obviously been a very difficult and traumatic period for her in her life,” he said.

Cheng was detained under China’s powerful security laws, which allow authorities to keep a person secretly in detention for six months without charge.

Australian officials’ contact with Cheng was limited in recent years, and her case sparked outcry from multiple human rights groups.
Her detention was a key friction point between Canberra and Beijing, though relations between the two countries have improved over the past year.

Albanese confirmed her case had been “the subject of ongoing discussions” between China and Australia.

“Her matter was concluded through the legal processes in China,” he said.
“This is something that we have advocated for a long period of time … I pay tribute to all who have made representations, both on the political level whenever we have met with our Chinese counterparts.”
In 2021, former foreign minister Marise Payne revealed Cheng had been formally arrested on suspicion of spying and relaying state secrets to foreign powers.
The prime minister said he had spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping, along with former premier Li Keqiang and current premier Li Qiang on the sidelines of G20 summits this year and last year.
This is a developing story and this article will be updated.
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https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/australian-journalist-cheng-lei-released-after-more-than-three-years-in-chinese-detention/xjvo7nctv Cheng Lei, journalist detained for years in China, has returned to Australia

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