Statement on Cheng Lei

  • Media release
31 March 2022

Today in Beijing, Australian citizen Ms Cheng Lei faced a closed trial on charges of illegally supplying state secrets overseas. At the end of proceedings, the court deferred its verdict.

The Australian Government respects the sovereignty of China’s legal system. However, Ms Cheng’s case has lacked transparency and the Australian Government has never been provided with details of the charges.

Australia’s Ambassador to China and officials were present at the court entrance, reiterating Australia’s support for Ms Cheng and our concerns with what has been a closed and opaque process.

Regrettably, the Ambassador was not permitted entry to the court. The continuing lack of transparency is concerning and further undermines confidence.

Since Ms Cheng was detained in August 2020, the Australian Government has consistently stated the fundamental importance of procedural fairness, basic standards of justice and China’s international legal obligations.

Following Ms Cheng’s trial, we renew our calls for China to uphold these principles and to allow Ms Cheng unimpeded access to her lawyer.

We will continue to provide consular assistance to Ms Cheng under the terms of our bilateral Consular Relations Agreement, and to advocate for her rights, including for her to be able to speak to her two young children in Australia, with whom she has had no contact since her detention in 2020.

Australia stands by Ms Cheng and her family at this difficult time.

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