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Images of the Beijing apartment belonging to Australian woman Cheng Lei have been released to the world, more than two years after she was arrested and put into one of China’s notorious black jails on spurious national security charges.

The photos are just one of the revelations from the new Daily Telegraph film Disappeared: The Cheng Lei Story, which also features harrowing details about how the journalist has been held since her arrest – including six months spent in the jails of China’s secretive Ministry of State Security.

According to reports on her condition filed by embassy officials, Ms Cheng has often been escorted to monthly 30-minute video conferences wearing a blindfold and handcuffs.

At other times she is restrained in a chair with a wooden board holding her arms down and in place.

Today she is held in a tiny cell with as many as three other prisoners, with just one bed and one toilet between them.

News of her treatment stands in stark contrast to recent claims by China’s ambassador to Australia that Ms Cheng was being treated well and her rights were being respected.

The film also hears the stories of Ms Cheng’s friends, co-workers, and partner, who were shocked to learn that she had disappeared – and it illustrates how worried they were that they might be next.

And, heartbreakingly, the film also reveals the letters Ms Cheng’s children have written but never been able to deliver – and their promise to “be strong, just like you taught me”.

Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Penny Wong released a powerful statement addressing Ms Cheng’s treatment, calling for her to benefit from “basic standards of justice”.

China has accused Ms Cheng, 46, of sharing state secrets. She was subject to a closed trial in March, though the full details and outcome of the case remain unknown.

On the second anniversary of her arrest, Ms Wong said the federal government would keep advocating for her.

“Today marks two years since Australian citizen Cheng Lei was detained in China,” Ms Wong said in her statement.

“Our thoughts today are with Ms Cheng‘s family, including her two young children, with whom she has had no contact since she was detained.

“Ms Cheng faced a closed trial in Beijing on 31 March 2022. She is yet to learn the outcome.”

Ms Wong went to say that the government would keep calling for Ms Cheng’s rights to be respected by China.

“Since Ms Cheng was detained in August 2020, the Australian Government has consistently called for basic standards of justice, procedural fairness and humane treatment to be met, in accordance with international norms,” the Minister said.

“We will continue to support Ms Cheng and her family, and to advocate for Ms Cheng‘s interests and wellbeing.”

Ms Wong’s remarks came after China’s Ambassador to Australia, Xiao Qian, was pressed about her case during his appearance at the National Press Club.

Mr Xiao claimed her rights were being “well protected” and her case was still under a “jurisdiction process”.

“There are a couple of Australian citizens in China that are under custody according to Chinese rules and laws, and their basic rights are well protected. Don’t worry about that,” the Ambassador said.

Asked if this meant that there was no immediate prospect of Ms Cheng’s release, Mr Xiao repeated that her case was “still in the process”.

“I think we all have to respect the laws and regulations of China,” he said.

He also said “it’s easy (for Australian citizens detained in China) to get access to their relatives” and any issues Ms Cheng’s partner and two young children have had with getting in contact with her were “because of the pandemic”.

These statements have been refuted by Ms Cheng’s family.

The Daily Telegraph’s special investigation Disappeared: The Cheng Lei Story is out today

Read related topics:China

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