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Two Australian journalists arrived home Tuesday after being flown from China, where they were forced to seek diplomatic refuge following "threatening behaviour from Chinese officials," per the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

Driving the news: During a five-day "diplomatic standoff," authorities told the ABC's Bill Birtles and the Australian Financial Review's Michael Smith they were "persons of interest in an investigation" into Australian Cheng Lei, who was an anchor for state broadcaster CGTN before being detained without charge last month, the AFR notes.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
  • Birtles was booked to leave Beijing last Thursday. But seven police officers visited his apartment the night before as he was having a farewell party and told him he wasn't allowed to leave, according to the ABC. He fled to the Australian Embassy.
  • Meanwhile, Smith sought refuge in the Australian Consulate in Shanghai following a police visit the same night.
  • The last two journalists working for Australian media in China were allowed to leave the country after being interviewed by police in the company Australian diplomats.

The big picture: Relations between China and Australia have deteriorated in recent years, with the Australian government passing legislation to prevent foreign interference amid concerns of Chinese influence on domestic politics.

What they're saying: AFR editor-in-chief Michael Stutchbury and editor Paul Bailey said in a joint statement, "This incident targeting two journalists, who were going about their normal reporting duties, is both regrettable and disturbing and is not in the interests of a cooperative relationship between Australia and China."

  • Smith told the AFR after arriving in Sydney, "The late-night visit by police at my home was intimidating and unnecessary and highlights the pressure all foreign journalists are under in China right now."
  • China has yet to comment on the matter, but Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne described the situation to 2GB as a "very disappointing series of events."

Go deeper: China bans journalists from 3 major U.S. newspapers

Go deeper

Australian lawsuit accuses Facebook of "deceptive conduct"

Photo: Indranil Aditya/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Australian government's regulatory commission announced Wednesday it's launched legal proceedings against Facebook and two of its subsidiaries for allegedly engaging in "false, misleading or deceptive conduct" in regards to a mobile app.

Why it matters: Governments around the world are clamping down on tech giants. Australia's lawsuit is similar to one filed against Facebook last week by the Federal Trade Commission and most states, which alleges the firm illegally hurt competition by buying smaller rivals and "converting personal data into a cash cow."

Bernie Madoff dies in prison at 82

Photo: Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bernie Madoff, a former investor sentenced to 150 years in prison for perpetrating the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history, died Wednesday at age 82, AP reports.

The big picture: Madoff pleaded guilty in 2009 to a multibillion-dollar scheme that investigators said began in the 1970s and defrauded as many as 37,000 people in 136 countries — including high-profile victims like Steven Spielberg, former New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon and actor Kevin Bacon, according to CNBC.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - World

John Kerry and China's long road ahead on climate

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Brian Snyder/AFP via Getty Images

Yes, special climate envoy John Kerry's really in China and no, don't look for a huge breakthrough between the world's two largest carbon-emitting nations.

Driving the news: The State Department yesterday announced Kerry's visit this week, confirming plans that began emerging Saturday.