Australian journalist Cheng Lei released from China detention, returns home

China has released Australian journalist Cheng Lei after more than three years in detention, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced on Wednesday, and she is now back in Melbourne.

“The Australian people very much wanted to see Cheng Lei reunited with her young kids,” Albanese said, adding that the reporter was “delighted” to be back home.

Cheng, a former anchor for Chinese state broadcaster CGTN, had been detained since August 2020 but was only formally arrested in February 2021.


‘I miss my children’: Australian journalist detained in China for 3 years writes ‘love letter’ home

‘I miss my children’: Australian journalist detained in China for 3 years writes ‘love letter’ home

She was charged with “supplying state secrets overseas” but no further details were given.

Cheng, 48, was tried behind closed doors, with even Australia’s ambassador to China blocked from entering the court to observe proceedings.
She had written about bleak prison conditions in a candid note dictated to Australian officials from jail and released in August.

‘I miss my children’: Australian anchor held in China issues first statement

“I miss the sun,” read the message, described as a “love letter” to Australia.

“In my cell, the sunlight shines through the window but I can stand in it for only 10 hours a year.”

Albanese said she had been released after the “completion of legal processes in China”.

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

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese welcomed Cheng’s return as bringing “an end to a very difficult few years” for her and her family. Photo: AFP

Cheng’s case had been a serious point of friction between Canberra and Beijing.

Albanese said that Cheng’s release would facilitate his visit to China at some point this year.

China was also furious at Canberra’s calls for an investigation into the origins of the Covid-19 outbreak that killed millions and plunged the world’s economy into a multi-year crisis.
In retaliation, China introduced a swathe of de facto sanctions against Australian products, measures that have been slowly unwound as relations thaw.

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