by Caitlin Johnstone, Caitlin Johnstone:
The government of China has arrested and imprisoned an Australian journalist for his groundbreaking reporting which exposed Chinese war crimes. A farcical show trial is currently underway to present the illusion of justice to the world, and a UN special rapporteur attests that the journalist has been subjected to torture.
Oh sorry, did I say China? My mistake, I meant the US and UK. I get them mixed up sometimes.
No, what China did was attempt to question two reporters, Bill Birtles from the ABC and Michael Smith from the Australian Financial Review, in relation to another Australian journalist named Cheng Lei who is being held by Chinese authorities and facing a six-month detention on unknown charges. Lei was a reporter for Chinese state media outlet CGTN, but her online profiles for the network have since been deleted.
Australian journalists seeking shelter in a diplomatic compound, you say? Will they be accused of fleeing from justice, smeared as paranoid narcissists, dismissed as “not even real journalists”? #FreeASSANGE #auspol https://t.co/D0A2ZFEJq5
— Jaraparilla (@jaraparilla) September 7, 2020
Thanks to a prompt “diplomatic standoff” from the Australian government against Beijing, Birtles and Smith were able to take shelter in diplomatic compounds and have now been successfully returned to Sydney. Two Australian journalists appeared to be at risk of suffering the same fate as Lei, and their government immediately took action to protect their citizens, as governments are supposed to do.
There was no abandonment and proclamation of guilt against those journalists like the one Australian Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard made against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2010, prior to any conviction, trial or due process of any kind. There was no gibberish about how Birtles, Smith and Lei need to “face the music” in China so that the Chinese legal process can “run its course”, like the nonsense spouted about Assange last year by Australia’s current LNP Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Canberra saw Australian journalists facing a potential injustice, and they wasted no time leaping to action.
And the Australian commentariat, which has completely abandoned Assange amid his grueling persecution at the hands of the US empire, are currently tweeting huffily about this latest flair-up in Australia’s idiotic participation in Washington’s cold war escalations against China.
“Yikes. This means there are no journos left in China covering the country for Australian media outlets,” tweeted the ABC’s Ashlynne McGhee of Smith and Birtles’ exit.
“China gets what it wanted – it has forced out or denied visas to Australian correspondents meaning there are now no Aussie accredited journos working in China for the first time since this 70s,” tweeted Latika M Bourke of the Sydney Morning Herald.
Australian MP Penny Wong called the event “highly disturbing”, saying “the media play a vital role in fostering understanding.”