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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.

  • 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."

DOJ watchdog to probe whether officials sought to alter election results

Former President Donald Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump exit Air Force One in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Jan. 20. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department's inspector general will investigate whether any current or former DOJ officials "engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome" of the 2020 election, the agency announced Monday.

Driving the news: The investigation comes in the wake of a New York Times report that alleged that Jeffrey Clark, the head of DOJ's civil division, had plotted with President Trump to oust acting Attorney General Jeffery Rosen in a scheme to overturn the election results in Georgia.

1 hour ago - Podcasts

Google's chief health officer Karen DeSalvo on vaccinating America

Google on Monday became the latest Big Tech company to get involved with COVID-19 vaccinations. Not just by doing things like incorporating vaccination sites into its maps, but by helping to turn some of its offices and parking lots into vaccination sites.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into what Google is doing, and why now, with Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Google's chief health officer who previously worked at HHS and as health commissioner for New Orleans.