Australia Says Respects China's Legal System Amid Row Over Journalist's Arrest

Australia Says Respects China's Legal System Amid Row Over Journalist's Arrest

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 09th February, 2021) Canberra is not interfering in China's legal system and respects it, but will continue to push for justice toward Australian national Cheng Lei, who has been recently arrested on suspicion of espionage, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in an interview, in the wake of Beijing's criticism.

Last week, Cheng, a Chinese-born Australian national, was formally arrested on suspicion of "illegally supplying state secrets overseas" after six months in detention. She reportedly worked as a business news anchor at the Chinese state English-language broadcaster CGTN and was active in the Australian expat community in Beijing. Commenting on the case on Monday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman expressed hope that Canberra would "stop interfering in China's handling of cases in accordance with law in any form."

"[I]t is entirely appropriate for Australia to observe that she deserves the basic standards of justice, procedural fairness and humane treatment to be met in accordance with international norms.

That doesn't constitute interference with the Chinese legal system. And in fact I have said on previous occasions, when similar matters, including in relation to Ms Cheng, have been raised that of course, we respect the Chinese legal system, as we do legal systems in other countries," Payne told ABC.

Australia, she went on, has not seen the evidence supporting the allegations that were brought up against the journalist.

"Australia is not privy to that evidence. The details of the formal arrest have only just been released. And of course, the criminal investigation is now underway in accordance with those Chinese legal processes," the minister said.

The diplomat noted that Australian consular workers visit Cheng almost monthly and will continue their support to both her and her family.