A Chinese Australian journalist who has been held in China since August 2020 will be tried next week, the Australian government said Saturday.
Cheng Lei, who was a prominent journalist for China’s state-run international network CGTN, was initially detained and later formally arrested on suspicion of supplying state secrets overseas.
The Chinese government has notified Australia that her trial will be held on Thursday, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement posted online.
“We expect basic standards of justice, procedural fairness and humane treatment to be met, in accordance with international norms,” the statement said.
The National Press Clubs of the United States and Australia as well as the journalist’s former CGTN colleagues and friends wrote open letters last year calling for her immediate release.
“Cheng Lei’s yearlong detention is an assault on journalism and on human rights,” a U.S. National Press Club statement said.
Australia has raised concern about Cheng’s welfare and detention conditions. Payne’s statement said that government officials last visited her on March 21. They have asked to be allowed to attend the trial.
Cheng was born in China and graduated from the University of Queensland. Before becoming a journalist, she worked as an accountant and financial analyst in Australia for Cadbury Schweppes and ExxonMobil from 1995 to 2000, according to her CGTN profile.
She moved to China in 2001 and joined state broadcaster CCTV the following year, then she was the China correspondent for CNBC Asia for nine years before returning to CCTV in 2012. She was the anchor of a business program on CGTN, the state broadcaster’s international arm.