Feb 7, 2021 - World

Australian journalist arrested in China on spying charges

Cheng Lei, Anchor, CGTN Europe, on Centre Stage during the opening day of Web Summit 2019 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal.

CGTN anchor Cheng Lei during the Web Summit 2019 in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

Australian journalist Cheng Lei has been formally arrested in China after some six months in detention "on suspicion of illegally supplying state secrets overseas," Australia's government said.

The big picture: Already strained relations between China and Australia have deteriorated since Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison last year called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • In September, two other Australian journalists were flown home from China after seeking diplomatic refuge following visits by police.
  • The police said they were "persons of interest in an investigation" into Cheng, who had been a TV presenter for Chinese state media outlet CGTN before her detention, according to the journalists.

What they're saying: "We expect basic standards of justice, procedural fairness and humane treatment to be met, in accordance with international norms," said Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne in a statement.

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