Australian Journalist Cheng Lei Arrested by Chinese Government and Accused Providing State Secrets | Inside Edition

Australian Journalist Cheng Lei Arrested by Chinese Government and Accused Providing State Secrets

Cheng Lei, Anchor, CGTN
Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

Cheng Lei, 45, was an anchor covering finance for China Global Television News, China's state television channel based in Beijing, since 2012.

A Chinese Australian journalist has been formally arrested by officials in China, after she was detained on suspicion of illegally providing state secrets, according to reports. Cheng Lei, 45, was an anchor covering finance for China Global Television News, China's state television channel based in Beijing, since 2012, CBS News reported.

Cheng was detained in August and, after six months, was officially arrested last Friday on accusations of committing a national security crime, although the official charges remain unclear. Cheng was born in Hunan Province and moved to Australia with her parents as a young girl, according to The New York Times. 

"The Australian government has raised its serious concerns about Ms. Cheng's detention regularly at senior levels, including about her welfare and conditions of detention," Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a brief statement.

"We expect basic standards of justice, procedural fairness and humane treatment to be met, in accordance with international norms," she added.

Before working for the state-owned broadcaster, Cheng worked with the U.S. financial news network CNBC, according to CNN. She was also active in the Australian community in Beijing, and served as an "alumni ambassador" for the country's embassy, the outlet reported.

Australian officials have visited Cheng six times since she was first detained, according to the statement. They visited her most recently on Jan. 27.

Her two children, ages 9 and 11, moved in with their grandmother in Melbourne, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Cheng could face life in prison or even death, but it would be an unusual circumstance for a reporter to face such a punishment, the outlet reported. 

Just two years ago, another Chinese Australian writer was detained and last year indicted on espionage charges, the Times reported. Two Canadians are also awaiting trial in China on similar charges.

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