The partner of Chinese-Australian journalist Cheng Lei, arrested in China in August 2020 for alleged espionage, said Thursday that He is concerned about his partner’s health and criticized the “unacceptable” suspension by Beijing of the consular assistance that Canberra provides him.
The journalist of the Chinese state television network CGTNwho was born 46 years ago in China and has Australian nationality, She waits in detention for a Beijing court, which tried her behind closed doors in March for alleged “disclosure of secrets to foreign agents”, to issue its ruling.
His partner, Nick Coyle, said during an interview with the network Sky News Australia published this Thursday that there have been several “very difficult challenges” related to Cheng’s health that have been aggravated by the lack of food.
“There are no food restrictions in Beijing. I talk to people every day,” said Coyle, who is executive director of the Australia-China Chamber of Commerce in the Asian country, about the justification of the Chinese authorities attributed to restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Likewise, Coyle denounced that Chinese authorities also hide behind anticovid restrictions to justify the suspension of monthly visits to Chengwho is facing the maximum sentence of life imprisonment, from the officials of the Australian consulate, as well as from the videoconferences with his family.
“These monthly consular visits are what have literally kept her going for twenty months,” Coyle said, recalling that the last time she spoke with Cheng was on August 13, 2020 when she was going to a birthday celebration, but the next day he no longer answered the phone.
Not answering, Coyle went to Cheng’s apartment, together with a journalist friend who was also later detained, where he saw that “everything seemed normal until I realized that all the electronic devices, computers and all that stuff were gone. It was pretty obvious to me what had happened.”
Cheng’s partner pointed out that he finds it difficult to understand the reasons for the arrest of the financial journalist because he was “someone who was not involved in politics.”
According to the China Foreign Press Correspondents Club, foreign journalists face “an unprecedented number of obstacles” including “threats of legal action” and “campaigns of harassment”, according to a report published in March.
In addition to the television presenter, mother of two children from a previous relationship and who resides in Melbourne, Australian Government seeks release of Chinese-Australian writer Yang Hengjun, arrested in 2019 in China and tried in May 2021 behind closed doors for espionage, without his sentence being known.
(With information from EFE)
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