The verdict in the case against Australian journalist Cheng Lei in China was postponed at the end of the hearing on Thursday. She is on trial on suspicion of illegally sharing state secrets. It is not known when the verdict will follow.
In response to the delay, the Australian government says that there is too little transparency in the case. “The Australian government has never been told what it is on trial for.” For example, Ambassador Graham Fletcher was also not allowed to be present in the courtroom. The ambassador said he has “no confidence in a judicial process conducted in secret”. He speaks of a “worrying, unsatisfactory and deplorable decision”.
Australian Cheng, who is of Chinese descent and worked for the Anglophone Chinese state medium CGTN, was arrested in August 2020. Early last year, the Chinese government reported that she had been arrested for violating national security law. If convicted, Cheng faces life in prison.
Cheng’s arrest came at a time when relations between China and Australia were deteriorating, including after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to allow telecom giant Huawei to participate in the 5G rollout in Australia. A law was passed to counter foreign interference, especially from China.