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Cheng Lei: Australian journalist visits behind closed doors in China on espionage charge as ambassador denied entry | World news

Australian journalist Cheng Lei went on trial behind closed doors in Beijing, accused of illegally providing state secrets abroad.

On Thursday, police closed areas near an entrance to the courthouse, checked the IDs of journalists and asked them to leave.

Cheng, 46, was a TV anchor for Chinese state broadcaster CGTN before he was arrested in August 2020.

She was formally arrested a year ago, accused of illegally providing state secrets abroad.

Cheng’s family members have said they are convinced she is innocent.

Entry to court denied

Australian Ambassador to China Graham Fletcher was banned from entering the heavily guarded court and told reporters that his country did not understand why Cheng Lei was arrested.

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Australian Ambassador Graham Fletcher told reporters his country could not understand why Mrs Lei was arrested

He described his denied entry as “deeply worrying, unsatisfactory and pitiful”.

“We can have no confidence in the validity of a process that is being conducted in secret,” he added.

In a statement to Reuters, he said Ms Cheng missed her two children and elderly parents enormously and sincerely hoped to reunite with them as soon as possible.

A Chinese flag is seen near surveillance cameras outside Beijing No.
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Last May, in a separate case before the same court, the Australian ambassador was denied access to a trial

A court official told the ambassador that the suspect “is suspected of the crime of illegally providing state secrets to a foreign country” and that the case is not open to visitors.

Uniformed police officers and security personnel in plain clothes were placed outside the courthouse.

Australia has previously raised concerns about the well-being and conditions of Ms Cheng’s detention.

At a regular press conference earlier this week, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a question as to whether Australian officials could attend, but said Cheng’s rights would be fully guaranteed.

It is not clear when there will be a ruling.

Uniformed police officers and security personnel in plain clothes were placed outside the courthouse.
Image:
Uniformed police officers and security personnel in plain clothes were placed outside the courthouse

This is not the first time the Australian ambassador has been denied access to a trial in the same court in China.

Last May, in a separate case, the ambassador was unable to attend the trial of Australian blogger Yang Hengjun, who was accused of espionage.

In August 2020, Ms. Cheng disappeared from television and CGTN deleted her web pages from her profile page and work.

She was born in China and moved to Australia as a child.

She then returned to the country, where she worked for CNBC in 2003 and later moved to CGTN in 2012, as a prominent business news anchor.

Cheng Lei: Australian journalist visits behind closed doors in China on espionage charge as ambassador denied entry | World news

Source link Cheng Lei: Australian journalist visits behind closed doors in China on espionage charge as ambassador denied entry | World news

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