China releases detained Australian journalist Cheng Lei after three years

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Australian journalist Cheng Lei has been released by Chinese authorities after more than three years in detention.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Wednesday Cheng had arrived back in Melbourne and been reunited with her partner and two children.

The former anchor for the state-run China Global Television Network was accused of national security-related offences and arrested in August 2020.

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Albanese said Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong met her at the airport.

“Her return brings an end to a very difficult few years for Cheng and her family,” he said.

“This is an outcome that the Australian government has been seeking for a long period of time and her return will be warmly welcomed not just by her family and friends, but by all Australians.”

Albanese said he spoke to Cheng and welcomed her home on behalf of all Australians.

“As has been the case throughout her detention, our focus remains on her interests and welfare,” he said.

The government will continue to provide consular assistance to her, he added.

Chinese-born journalist Cheng Lei returned home to Melbourne on Wednesday. Credit: DFAT
Cheng hugged Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong who met her at the airport. Credit: DFAT
Cheng’s return marks the end of a painful three years for her and her loved ones. Credit: DFAT

The Prime Minister said her matter was concluded through the legal processes in China.

“This is something that we have advocated for, for a long period of time,” Albanese said.

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham said Cheng would be warmly welcomed back by all Australians.

“Her detention over the last three years has been a very painful episode for her and those near and dear to her,” he told ABC Radio National.

“It’s been one where the pain has been exacerbated by the lack of transparency, information and the uncertainty attached to it right throughout that period of detention.”

Cheng was not granted regular contact with her children while detained.

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