Australian journalist Cheng Lei to be tried in Beijing on state secrets charges

ABC Australia reports

An Australian television journalist detained in China for more than 19 months will be put on trial, likely in a closed court, on state secrets charges that could see her face anything from a short sentence to life behind bars.

Cheng Lei, a former high-profile anchor for the Chinese government’s English-language broadcaster CGTN, is facing accusations of providing state secrets or intelligence to foreigners or foreign organisations.

She has been held in Beijing since August 2020 and was initially denied access to lawyers while being detained under an extra-judicial interrogation process called “residential surveillance” at a prison.

Two people close to the case have confirmed to the ABC that Ms Cheng is due to be tried next Thursday in the Beijing No.2 People’s Intermediate Court at 9am local time.

It is unlikely Australian diplomats will be permitted to observe the trial.

In May last year they were barred from attending the closed trial of Yang Hengjun, another Australian citizen who, like Ms Cheng, faced national security-related charges.

A Beijing-based lawyer representing Ms Cheng told the ABC he could not comment on any details of the trial.

Read full report