Australian journalist says China jailed her for sharing document before embargo

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Australian journalist Cheng Lei said she was jailed by China for sharing an official briefing document shortly before the government released it, an act that led to her being detained for almost three years.

In an interview with Sky News that aired on Tuesday, Cheng initially said that she couldn’t be explicit about “specifics as to what she had been accused of by the Chinese government,” adding that her focus was “getting home in one piece.”

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But when prompted, she said that she had been detained for sharing a government briefing document before she went on air.

“Essentially you broke an embargo?” Sky News journalist Annelise Nielsen asked Cheng. “By a few minutes?”

“Yes,” the Australian journalist replied.

Cheng was released from detention last week after pleading guilty to passing national secrets to an overseas institution. She spent almost three years in a Chinese jail. Her release was a sign of improving ties between Australia and China.

Cheng said the Chinese police who came to collect her from her apartment tried to warn her she would not be returning for some time.

“As we were leaving they said, ‘Turn off the power and water, take some clothes, take some toiletries,’” she said.

Read more: Australia PM Albanese will visit to China ‘later this year’

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