Morrison Reacts To Karm Gilespie's Death Sentence: 'I'm Very Sad'

By on
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australian authorities were aware of Karm Gilespie's arrest
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australian authorities were aware of Karm Gilespie's arrest POOL / Gary Ramage

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has expressed his concern over an Australian man who was sentenced to death in China over charges of drug smuggling. 

The Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court revealed on Saturday that Karm Gilespie,  a 55-year-old Sydney-based actor and investment coach, has been sentenced to death. He is believed to have been secretly jailed for seven years. 

According to Morrison, the government is aware of Gilespie’s case and has been in contact with their Chinese counterparts. 

“I and the government are very sad and concerned that an Australian citizen, Mr. Karm Gilespie, has been sentenced to death in China,” the PM said.

“Our thoughts are with him, his family and his loved ones.”

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade also confirmed it is providing consular assistance to the accused. 

“We advocate consistently for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide, via every diplomatic avenue available to us,” said Foreign Minister Marise Payne.

“We will continue to provide Mr. Gilespie with consular assistance. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”

According to reports, Gillespie was arrested on New Year’s eve in 2013 at the Guangzhou Baiyun Airport with 7.5 kilograms of methamphetamine in his luggage. Drug smuggling carries steep penalties in China for both foreigners and nationals, including capital punishment. 

The situation is expected to further dampen the relationship between Australia and China. The hostilities started with Canberra’s bid to have an independent investigation into the origins of “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2),” the virus that causes COVID-19.

China has since warned of boycotting Australian products, has banned beef exporters, released a travel warning against Australia and accused it of doing “ petty tricks.”

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, however, warned not to connect Gilespie’s case with the growing friction between the former trade partners. 

“I think we need to be very careful about making such links, I think we need to be very careful in our language, both in government and indeed in the media, about this particular case because Mr. Gilespie’s life is worth more than that,” McCormack told ABC.  

Join the Discussion