The family of an Australian man sentenced to death for drug trafficking in China have said they are "very saddened" by the situation and pleaded with friends to stop posting on social media about the case.
Karm Gilespie's family said in a statement issued via the Department of Foreign Affairs: "We will not be making any public comment and ask that the media respects our privacy."
"We also request that friends and acquaintances of Karm refrain from speculating on his current circumstances, which we do not believe assists his case."
Gilespie has 10 days to appeal his case.
The comments came after a friend of Gilespie's weighed in to claim that he was duped.
Singapore-based business coach Roger J Hamilton said on social media that Gilespie was a former student who had been tricked into smuggling drugs in handbags that he was told were presents for partners of Chinese businessmen in Australia.
The case has attracted international attention, with Australian leaders lobbying on Gilespie's behalf.
On Monday, China's communist party mouthpiece newspaper, the Global Times, called for Australia to "face up to reality" and said the country is becoming "increasingly irrational" towards its powerful neighbour.
In an article about China's recent decision to sentence Gilespie to death for alleged drug trafficking, the country defended the move as part of China's "zero tolerance" approach to drug offences.
"Australia's mentality toward China has become increasingly irrational," the Global Times claimed.
"It has chosen to act as a pawn of the US in confronting China, while it doesn't want to face the consequences. Canberra has repeatedly harmed China's interests unilaterally, however, as China took actions to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests, Australia has played the victim, calling China's counteractions 'bullying' or 'coercion'.
"It's time for Australia to face up to reality and be able to tell right from wrong."
The comments come after Beijing's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhoa Lijian warned Australia needed to "respect" China's decision and the case was unrelated to tensions in the wake of the virus pandemic.
"Applying the death penalty to drug crimes that cause extremely serious harm can help in deterring and preventing drug crimes," Zhao said at a briefing on Monday local time.
Australia should "earnestly respect China's judicial sovereignty. And the above-mentioned case has nothing to do with bilateral relations," he added.
ABC China correspondent Bill Birtles reported that Zhao did not answer why the Chinese court or judicial system has not published details of the case online.
Gilespie was arrested in 2013 at Baiyun Airport in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou on charges of attempting to board an international flight with more than 7.5kg of methamphetamine in his check-in luggage.
The Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court announced Saturday he had been sentenced to death and ordered the confiscation of all of his personal property.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Foreign Minister Marise Payne and other Australian officials had raised his case with their Chinese counterparts on a number of occasions.
"I and the government are very sad and concerned that an Australian citizen, Mr Karm Gilespie, has been sentenced to death in China," Morrison told parliament on Monday.
"We will continue to provide Gilespie with consular assistance and engage China on his case. Our thoughts are with him, his family and his loved ones," he added.
The death sentence comes as bilateral relations are under extraordinary strain over Australia's call for an independent investigation into the coronavirus pandemic, which started in China late last year.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has been trying without success to persuade his Chinese counterpart to accept a phone call over China's decision to effectively end trade in Australian barley through crippling tariffs last month.
China has also banned beef exports from Australia's largest abattoirs and warned Chinese against visiting the country because of pandemic-related racism.
Gilespie is among 62 Australians in detention in China, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said. Most were arrested on drug trafficking and fraud charges, The Australian newspaper reported. The department would not comment on what they were detained for.
The Australian prisoners include Henry Chin, 40, who was sentenced to death in 2005 for attempting to send 270 grams of methamphetamine to Australia a year earlier.
Birmingham called Gilespie's sentence "distressing", but said it shouldn't necessarily be linked to disputes between China and Australia.
Paul Monk, former head of China analysis for the Australian Defense Department, suspected there was a link.
"He's been in jail for seven years and only now has he been put through a Chinese-style trial and condemned to death for drug smuggling, so I think it's hard not to see it in the present context of diplomatic confrontation," Monk told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
"It's spiteful, it's vicious really," he added.
Gilespie made occasional appearances as a character in the popular Australian television crime drama "Blue Healers" in the 1990s and toured the country performing a one-man stage show he wrote about Australian poet Banjo Paterson before reinventing himself as an entrepreneur and motivational speaker.