By ROD McGUIRK
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A Chinese-born journalist has thanked the Australian government for her return to Australia “in one piece” after her three-year detention in China in an espionage case that strained bilateral ties. Cheng Lei’s comments broadcast on Thursday challenged China’s version that she was deported this week under normal judicial procedures without political considerations. The 48-year-old former Chinese state television anchor spoke to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese by phone from Melbourne Airport on Wednesday after her arrival from Beijing. She said: “Hello, prime minister. It’s because of you and all the team at DFAT that I’m able to make it here in one piece.” She was referring to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.