BEIJING (AP) — Chinese Australian journalist Cheng Lei went on trial Thursday on espionage charges, with diplomats denied permission to attend. Australian Ambassador Graham Fletcher told reporters outside the court in Beijing that the secrecy gave Australia “no confidence in the validity” of the trial proceedings. Cheng is a former presenter for a state-owned TV network and has been held for 19 months on suspicion of relaying state secrets abroad. China’s state security statutes are notoriously vague and the ruling Communist Party is frequently accused of using them to silence critics. Her trial comes amid prolonged tensions between China and Australia over Chinese foreign policy moves, accusations of Chinese meddling in Australian politics and other issues.
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