Sunlit Dreams And Family Ties: Cheng Lei’s Letter From Detention In China

Cheng Lei, an Australian news anchor who has been detained in China for three years as of Sunday, stated in a rare message that she misses her family and life in Australia.

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

Diplomatic officers dictated and relayed the message to him.

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Cheng’s message stated, “I can’t believe I used to avoid the sun when I was living back in Australia” 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 China’s state broadcaster CGTN and mother of two, is accused of illegally exporting state secrets, a charge that entails a possible prison sentence of five to life.


Cheng Lei's Letter From Detention In China
Cheng Lei’s Letter From Detention In China

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

The Chinese government has not disclosed the specifics of the allegations against Cheng.

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The Chinese court has repeatedly postponed rendering a verdict, leaving Cheng in custody and her loved ones unsure of her fate.

In a letter released on Thursday, Cheng expressed fondness for her life in Australia and wrote, “I miss the Australian people.”

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“I remember camping for the first time with my family,” she writes. “I miss the sweet encounters of wildlife in Australia, the sea salt whirling in my ear.”

“I relive every bushwalk, river, lake, beach with swims and picnics and psychedelic sunsets, sky that is lit up with stars, and the silent and secret symphony of the bush,” she says.

“Most of all I miss my children,” she wrote at the end.

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