May 26, 2024

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Cheng Lei, an Australian TV presenter imprisoned in China, publishes a rare message

Piaras Ó Midheach/Sportsfile Web Summit via Getty Images

Li Cheng at Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal on November 6, 2019.


Australian television broadcaster Cheng Liwho will have spent three years in detention at China As of Sunday, she said in a rare message that she misses her family and her life in Australia.

“I miss the sun. In my cell, the sunlight shines through the window but I can only stand in it 10 hours a year,” she said in a message posted Thursday by her partner, Nick Coyle, to the X account he runs, FreeChengLei.

Coyle told CNN the letter was dictated to diplomatic officials and shared with him.

“I can’t believe I was avoiding the sun when I lived in Australia,” Cheng’s letter said.

Cheng described it as a “love letter” to Australia, and said “I haven’t seen a tree in 3 years.”

Cheng, a former business anchor for Chinese state broadcaster CGTN and a mother of two, is charged with illegally providing state secrets abroad, a charge that carries a prison sentence of between five years and life.

In a letter published in The Australian newspaper in May, Coyle said she was on her way to work on the morning of August 13, 2020, when she was “picked up by China’s Ministry of State Security”.

Chinese authorities have not disclosed details of the allegations against Cheng.

The court in China has delayed sentencing several times, leaving Cheng in custody and her loved ones without explanation of her fate.

In her letter, published on Thursday, Cheng spoke fondly of her life in Australia, writing, “I miss the Australian people.”

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You write: “I remember camping for the first time with my family.” “I miss encounters with the beautiful wildlife of Australia, the sea salt swirling in my ears.”

“I relive every bushwalk, river, lake, and beach with swims, picnics, psychedelic sunsets, starlit skies, and the silent and secretive symphony of the bush,” she says.

“I miss my kids more than anything,” she wrote at the end.

Coyle told CNN he can only hear from Cheng after her consular visits, which happen once a month.