An Australian journalist whose 2020 arrest in China sparked outrage around the world was released this week and has been reunited with her family.
Cheng Lei, a journalist who was born in China and became an Australian citizen in 2002, was arrested in 2020 and charged with sharing state secrets, although her defenders called the charges false and ill-defined. During the three years, she was separated from her two young children who live in Melbourne.
Details of her release were not made public.
“Tight hugs, teary screams, holding my kids in the spring sunshine,” she said in a message on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. “Trees shimmy from the breeze. I can see the entirety of the sky now! Thank you, Aussies.”
“Tight hugs, teary screams, holding my kids in the spring sunshine. Trees shimmy from the breeze. I can see the entirety of the sky now! Thank you Aussies.” pic.twitter.com/WJ5vAYsMgZ
— FreeChengLei (@FreeChengLei) October 11, 2023
Cheng was a well-known anchor on the Chinese-owned English network China Global Television Network (CGTN). Previously, she worked for CNBC.
She was arrested in August 2020, although her case only became public two weeks later when the Australian government announced she had been detained. At the time, Elaine Pearson, the head of Human Rights Watch Australia, noted that “no one is immune these days from arrest in China — tycoons, celebrities, journalists, the former head of Interpol — many people, both foreigners and locals, have disappeared into the Chinese justice system without clear explanations why.”
The Australian-based organization MEAA applauded Cheng’s release. MEAA advocates for individuals in media, entertainment, and the arts. MEAA said her release was the “culmination of years of campaigning by the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance alongside other journalist organizations worldwide, Ms Cheng’s family and friends.”
“She was tried in secret last year, but at the time of her release, she was still awaiting a verdict,” MEAA said.
Karen Percy, the federal president of MEAA’s media section, said she and her team “always believed that the charges against her had no substance and that if due legal process was followed, she would be found innocent.”
“This is a moment for joy,” Percy said.
I am pleased to confirm that Ms Cheng Lei has arrived safely home in Australia, and has been reunited with her two children and her family.
I spoke with her on the phone this afternoon. This is an outcome the Australian government has been seeking for a long time. pic.twitter.com/ukcoSR9oE3
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) October 11, 2023
Photo Courtesy: ©Getty Images/Kevin Frayer / Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
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