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Australian reporter 'harassed' by Chinese police

Sep 09, 2020

Canberra (Australia), September 9: An Australian journalist who left China after fearing for his safety says a midnight visit to his home by state security officers in Beijing was "harassment" and that a subsequent interrogation was "superficial."
Bill Birtles, the China correspondent for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and Michael Smith, who works for the Australian Financial Review, returned to Sydney on Tuesday with help from the Australian government.
Last week, Chinese authorities temporarily banned them from leaving the country and required them to submit to questioning as a condition for their release.
Birtles said in an interview on ABC television on Tuesday that Chinese security officers knocked on his door after midnight last Wednesday.
He said they informed him that he was "involved" in a case and was not allowed to leave the country.
Birtles said the questioning by the Chinese authorities was "very superficial stuff." He added, "There was never any real effort to dig deeper and find out who my sources were."
He said he was asked about Australian journalist Cheng Lei, who was detained last month by local authorities.
Lei was a prominent journalist at China's state-run broadcaster CGTN.
Relations between China and Australia have become increasingly fractured in recent months, over calls for an independent probe into the source of the coronavirus pandemic and the situation in Hong Kong.
Observers say the journalists' troubles could deepen the rift between the countries.
Source: NHK World