Family of Karm Gilespie urge friends to stop speculating as he faces death penalty in China
A supplied image shows 56-year-old Australian national Karm Gilespie. Source: Supplied/AAP
The family of an Australian man sentenced to death in China for drug smuggling are urging people to avoid inflaming the situation through speculation.
Karm Gilespie, 56, was sentenced in the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court on Saturday and has just 10 days to appeal the verdict.
Mr Gilespie's family on Monday afternoon issued a statement through Australia's foreign affairs department.
"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 read.
"We also request that friends and acquaintances of Karm refrain from speculating on his current circumstances, which we do not believe assists his case."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday said the Australian government opposed the death penalty and would do all it could to support Mr Gilespie.
"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.
"Our thoughts are with him, his family and his loved ones."
China's foreign ministry denies the death sentence is related to strained diplomatic relations with Australia.
Spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters during a daily briefing that the ruling was made by a Chinese court in accordance with the law.
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-based entrepreneur Roger James Hamilton said he taught 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 said his friend did not deserve the death penalty.
"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 had worked as an actor before turning to investing, motivational speaking and business coaching.