Tuesday, September 8, 2020

China detains Australian journalist on ‘national security’ grounds


                            China President

China said Tuesday that it had detained a high - profile Australian journalist working for its state media on “ national security grounds ” .

Cheng Lei’ s detention was a new blow to deteriorating relations between the two countries that have seen China warn its citizens of travelling to Australia and vice versa .

In the first comments on CGTN anchor Cheng Lei , held since August 14, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said authorities took “ compulsory measures” against her on suspicion “ of criminal activity endangering China’ s national security” .

“ The case is still in the process of investigation in accordance with the law, ” Zhao said , adding that her “ legal rights and interests are all receiving full legal protection ” .

He did not give further details of the allegations against her .

Cheng, who conducted interviews with international CEOs for CGTN’ s Global Business and BizTalk shows , has not been seen in public since being held , although Australian diplomats in Beijing were able to speak to her on August 27.

Two other Australian reporters Bill Birtles and Michael Smith fled China overnight , saying they also feared arrest.

“ As long as foreign journalists obey the law… they have no reason to worry , ” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said after stating authorities had investigated the Australian pair as part of an unspecified case .

The Australian Financial Review , Smith’ s employer , reported that both journalists had been told that “ they were persons of interest in an investigation into Ms Cheng ” .

Cheng is the second high- profile Australian citizen to be detained in Beijing after writer Yang Hengjun was arrested in January 2019 on suspicion of espionage.

Earlier this year , Australia warned its citizens they faced the risk of arbitrary detention if they travelled to China .

( AFP)

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