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Cheng Lei released by China and reunited with family in Melbourne

Cheng Lei, the Australian journalist incarcerated in China since August 2020, has been freed – arriving in Melbourne to be reunited with her family.

She was met at the airport by Foreign Minister Penny Wong, with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announcing her release at a Melbourne news conference on Wednesday.

Albanese said he had spoken with Cheng, who has two young daughters, and she was “delighted” to be back in Melbourne. He said that in the call he had welcomed her home on behalf of all Australians.

“Her return brings an end to a very difficult few years for Ms Cheng and her family,” Albanese said. He described her as “a very strong and resilient person”.

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Cheng, 48, who was born in China, was a business journalist with China’s state-run English language television station CGTN when she was detained.

She was accused of “illegally supplying state secrets overseas”. Her trial took place in secret.

Her release comes after continued representations by Australia, including by Albanese himself. It appears to be timed as a gesture ahead of Albanese’s visit to Beijing later this year, and follows the lifting of most restrictions on Australian commodities. Those left cover wine and some seafoods.

This article is republished from The Conversation is the world's leading publisher of research-based news and analysis. A unique collaboration between academics and journalists. It was written by: Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra.

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Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.