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Foreign Minister rejects speculation around detention of Australian journalist

Deborah Knight Exclusive

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has told Deborah Knight an Australian journalist detained in China is “as well as can be expected” under the circumstances.

TV anchor Cheng Lei works for Chinese state broadcaster CGTN’s English channel, and has been detained for two weeks in Beijing.

The Australian government was notified of her detention on August 14 and a consular visit was conducted via video-link.

“The process within the justice system does not require the laying of charges at this point, but we will continue to seek information on that,” Ms Payne told Deborah Knight.

It’s understood she could be held for a number of months before charges are laid.

Asked about how the Australian citizen was faring, Ms Payne said the consular visit was an opportunity for a welfare check.

“[She’s] as well as can be expected in these circumstances I think would be the best way to put that.”

Ms Payne rejected the notion the prominent journalist was a pawn amidst rising tensions with China.

“I would not describe it in that way – it is speculative at best to engage in that sort of premise,” she said.

“It’s important from our perspective we do what we can to support her, and support her family.”

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Image: Nine News, CGTN

Deborah Knight Exclusive