China Releases Prominent Journalist, 3 Years After Arrest: ‘This Is a Moment for Joy’

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.”

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.

Photo Courtesy: ©Getty Images/Kevin Frayer / Stringer

Video Courtesy: 7NEWS Australia via YouTube

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-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Related podcast:

The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.

Related video:

We would do well to consider how biblical patterns might inform our contemporary actions. Read James Spencer’s full article here

Sound and Photo Credit:©/iStock/Getty Images Plus/skynesher