Australia concerned by delays in trial of journalist detained in China

FILE PHOTO-Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong speaks during a Quad Ministers' panel at the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi, India on March 3, 2023. OLIVIER DOULIERY/Pool via REUTERS

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia said it has “deep concerns” about delays in the case of Australian journalist Cheng Lei who faced a closed door trial in Beijing on national security charges a year ago.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong said in a statement on Friday that Cheng was still waiting to learn the outcome of the trial 12 months later.

“We share the deep concerns of Ms. Cheng’s family and friends about the ongoing delays in her case,” Wong said.

Cheng, who has been detained in Beijing since her arrest in 2020, has two young children living in Australia. Wong said the Australian government has advocated for Cheng to be reunited with her family.

Cheng was a business television anchor for Chinese state broadcaster CGTN before being arrested and accused of providing state secrets to a foreign country.

She was born in China and moved with her parents to Australia as a child. Later she returned to China to build a television career first with CNBC, starting in 2003, and in 2012 she joined CGTN.

China’s foreign ministry has previously told Australia to respect China’s judicial sovereignty.

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