Australian journalist Cheng Lei has been freed from Chinese detention and reunited with her children after more than 1,000 days in prison.

Cheng Lei was working as a business reporter at China’s state-run English language television station CGTN when she was suddenly grabbed by state security officers on 13 August 2020.

Her children were aged just nine and 11 at the time she was imprisoned.

She was subsequently placed in solitary confinement and accused of “illegally supplying state secrets overseas”.

But her trial, which was conducted in March last year, was behind closed doors and details of the charges against her were never publicly released.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the breakthrough today in Melbourne praising her “strength” and fortitude.

He said the judicial processes had been “concluded” and she had been reunited with her teenage children.

“The Australian people very much wanted to see Cheng Lei reunited with her young kids,’’ Mr Albanese said.

“She spent three years in circumstances that were very difficult.

“She is a very strong and resilient person though, and when I spoke with her she was delighted to be back in Melbourne.”

Mr Albanese said her release had been the subject of ongoing discussions between the Australian and Chinese governments.

“Her matter was concluded through the legal processes in China,’’ he said.

“This is something that we have advocated for a long period of time. I pay tribute to the ongoing work that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade people consistently do for Australian citizens overseas.

“She was met at the airport by the Foreign Minister Penny Wong. Her return brings an end to a very difficult few years for Ms Chang and her family. The Government has been seeking this for a long period of time and her return will be warmly welcomed not just by her family and friends but by all Australians.

“When I spoke to Cheng Lei I welcomed her home on behalf of all Australians. Our focus remains on her interests and welfare and we are asking for her privacy and that of her family be respected at this time as she adjusts to what has obviously been a very difficult and traumatic period for her in her life.”

The details of the charges against her were secret and she was never sentenced.

More to come


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By Rahul

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