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Newsline: Australian ambassador denied entry to Beijing trial

Australia’s ambassador to China says he has been denied entry to the Beijing trial of an Australian TV host accused of sharing state secrets, the latest development in an opaque case analysts worry may be politically motivated. Australian ambassador to China, Graham Fletcher, told media it was “deeply concerning, unsatisfactory and regrettable” he had been denied entry to the trial, which was due to start Thursday. “We can have no confidence in the validity of a process which is conducted in secret,” he said, adding that Australia had no information about the charges or allegations against Cheng. (https://keyt.com/news/2022/03/30/australian-tv-host-set-to-stand-trial-in-china-for-allegedly-supplying-state-secrets-overseas/) Cheng Lei, a former business anchor of China’s state broadcaster CGTN, is accused of illegally supplying state secrets overseas, a charge that carries a possible sentence of between five years to life in prison. A heavy security presence including uniformed police and plain-clothed security personnel were outside the No. 2 People’s Intermediate Court in Beijing where Cheng was to be tried, Reuters reported. Police, who had taped off areas close to the north entrance of the court, checked journalists’ IDs and asked them to move away. Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said Canberra had been advised Cheng would stand trial on Thursday, and had asked that Australian officials be permitted to attend the hearing. Cheng has been in custody since August 2020, and observers have raised concerns over the secretive court process. Payne says Cheng has been allowed regular access to Australian consular officials, who last saw her on March 21.

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