Journalists call for release of Cheng Lei, who spent a year in detention in ChinaGlobal Voices


Media groups are urging the public to sign an open letter calling for the release of Australian journalist Cheng Lei. Source: AEM

At least 50 journalists and media groups in Australia have signed a letter urging the Chinese government to release Australian journalist Cheng Lei.

Lei was arrested on August 13, 2020 in China on suspicion of illegally providing state secrets abroad. Prior to her arrest, she was a business reporter working as a television presenter for the state-run China Global Television Network (CGTN).

She was arrested amid escalating diplomatic tensions between China and Australia over the coronavirus pandemic and human rights concerns.

After a year of detention of Cheng Lei, the Chinese authorities have still not presented any evidence against the journalist.

This prompted former colleagues of Cheng Lei in Australia to write an open letter to Beijing calling for the journalist’s release.

We are confident that she has done nothing wrong and are very concerned for her health, safety and care during her current detention.

We are concerned about the crippling effect his arrest is having on the practice of journalism, which has never been so critical.

The Australian Media, Entertainment and the Arts Alliance (MEAA) is among the signatories of the letter:

Her arrest, detention and the charges against her have never been explained. No evidence was presented. After 12 months, there is no indication that she did anything wrong. MEAA members and journalists from around the world stand with Cheng Lei.

The National Press Club of Australia bound Cheng Lei’s Arrest with Increasing Persecution of Foreign Journalists in China:

This makes her one of many journalists detained in China as the Chinese government expels foreign correspondents or denies them entry, thus suppressing press freedom.

The National Press Club of the United States also issued a statement supporting Cheng Lei:

China tried to make Cheng disappear, but the world has not forgotten her and the dozens of other journalists wrongfully imprisoned in China.

Cheng Lei’s friends and former colleagues posted messages of support on Twitter:

Cheng Lei’s friends call on China to show compassion by reuniting the journalist with her two children in Australia. Cheng Lei has had no communication with his family and is not authorized to receive visitors except Australian consular officials once a month.

If convicted, Cheng Lei faces a prison term of at least five to ten years.

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