The family of an Australian man sentenced to death in China on drug charges have called for an end to speculation around his situation.
Karm Gilespie, 56, is thought to have been detained in China since 2013.
On Saturday, he was sentenced in the Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court to death, and has just 10 days to appeal the verdict.
In a statement issued through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Gilespie’s family said they wanted speculation around his case to end.
“Our family is very saddened by the situation. We will not be making any public comment and ask that the media respects our privacy at this difficult time,” the statement said.
“We also request that friends and acquaintances of Karm refrain from speculating on his current circumstances, which we do not believe assists his case.”
Earlier, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australian officials have raised Mr Gilespie’s case with Chinese counterparts several times, and were still working to secure his freedom.
“I and the government are very sad and concerned that an Australian citizen, Mr Karm Gilespie, has been sentenced to death in China,” he told parliament on Monday.
“Our thoughts are with him, his family and his loved ones.”
Mr Morrison said the government would continue to support Mr Gilespie and reiterated Australia’s opposition to the death penalty.
Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack highlighted the need for diplomacy in the case, rejecting assertions the penalty might be politically motivated.
“What we need to do is be very careful, and what we need to do is make sure that anything that’s said about this matter doesn’t affect Mr Gilespie’s cause and cases in any way, shape or form,” he told the ABC on Monday.
“We want to make sure that we give him every available assistance and we are, through the proper processes.”
Thank you to everyone who has been sharing the message about Karm Gilespie and the death sentence China has given him….
Mr Gilespie was arrested in 2013 with more than 7.5 kilograms of methamphetamine in his check-in luggage as he was about to board an international flight from Baiyun Airport, in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.
The court also ordered all of his personal property be confiscated.
In a post on Facebook, Bali entrepreneur Roger James Hamilton said he taught Mr Gilespie, a former actor, seven years ago before he suddenly vanished.
“We spent a few years trying to find out how he could disappear so suddenly and so entirely. After that, we resigned ourselves to the idea that he had left because he wanted to start a new life,” he wrote.
“Today I heard the news of what had happened to him.”
Mr Hamilton claims his friend was duped into carrying the drugs by investors, who asked had him to carry presents back to Australia on their behalf.
“Knowing Karm, and knowing the love he had (and has) for his wife and his children, this is not a man that deserves to lose his life,” he said.
Another friend posted on Facebook about his sadness and shock and what has happened to Mr Gilespie.
“The Karm I met would never get knowingly involved in such a crime and does not deserve such a severe penalty for his trusting nature being taken advantage of,” Andy Greenhill wrote.
Mr Gilespie worked as an actor before turning to investing, motivational speaking and business coaching.