China on Wednesday confirmed that four journalists from three Chinese media outlets were raided by Australian intelligence officers in June, and urged Australia to stop harassing and suppressing Chinese personnel under whatever pretext.
"According to information from relevant news agencies, in late June, the Australian security intelligence agency raided and questioned four journalists from the outlets of Xinhua News Agency, China Media Group and China News Service working in Australia, and seized their computers, cell-phones, and even tablets for kids and other electronic toys, alleging that they might have violated Australia's anti-foreign interference law," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a press briefing.
The Australian government has not yet returned all the seized items belonging to the Chinese journalists, he added.
Zhao stressed that Chinese media outlets in Australia always strictly abide by local laws and regulations, work in an objective and fair manner and have contributed immensely to promoting mutual understanding and friendly exchanges between the two peoples.
The Australian government's action seriously disrupted Chinese media outlets' normal reporting activities in the country, grossly violated the Chinese journalists' legitimate rights and interests and has seriously jeopardized the physical and mental health of the concerned journalists and their families, said Zhao.
The spokesperson added that such action has fully exposed the hypocrisy of the "freedom of the press" and so-called "respect and protection of human rights" self-proclaimed by some Australians.
China has made solemn representations to Australia on this issue repeatedly, said the spokesperson, calling on the Australian side to immediately stop its barbaric and unreasonable action, guarantee the safety and legitimate rights of Chinese citizens, and refrain from doing anything that interferes in cultural exchanges and cooperation between the two countries.