10 Feb Chinese gall cops serve from minister
Jade Gailberger – The Daily Telegraph – Wednesday 10 February 2021
China has been slammed for demanding Australia stop interfering in the case of arrested journalist, Cheng Lei.
The Australian television reporter, who was detained without charge in August last year, has now been accused of leaking state secrets.
However, Australia’s advocacy for Ms Cheng has been deemed interference by China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin.
He said Australia should “respect China’s judicial sovereignty” and that her rights were being fully protected; despite Ms Cheng not having access to a lawyer for six months.
Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said Australia will always stand up for the interests of its citizens.
“It 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,” she told ABC AM.
“That does not constitute interference with the Chinese legal system.”
New chair of the parliament’s intelligence and security committee, Liberal Senator James Paterson, said it was an “absurd accusation” from the Chinese ministry.
“We’ve done nothing of the sort of interfering in their legal system,” Senator Paterson told ABC RN.
“We have no capacity to interfere in their legal system.”
He said the government was “very concerned” about Ms Cheng, who is a single mother with two young children in Melbourne.
“She has been formally arrested and the upcoming stage could last for up to seven months of investigation before she is formally charged, let alone tried,” Senator Paterson said.
“All we have done is the same thing we would do for any Australian citizen detained anywhere in the world, which is to robustly advocate for their interests.”
Senator Paterson said he hoped Ms Cheng’s arrest was not a tit for tat situation for Australia’s foreign interference laws.
“If it were the case, it would amount to the Chinese government admitting that it takes political hostages in a retaliatory way,” he said.
Meanwhile, Australian authorities continue to advocate for academic Sean Turnell’s release after he was detained in Myanmar’s military coup.
Prof Turnell was an economic adviser to Myanmar’s overthrown leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who was arrested several days earlier.
Senator Payne said the government had asked for his “immediate release” and had been in contact with senior levels of the incoming government.
“We want to make sure he is as safe as possible,” she said.
“It’s obviously a very volatile situation.”
The Macquarie University economic professor began living and working in Myanmar in December 2017.
He served as a special economic consultant to Ms Suu Kyi.