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Thread: #Australian academic arrested in #China on suspicion of “espionage”, foreign minister confirms - Yang, a Chinese native, now Australian citizen, was detained in Guangzhou in January after a flight from New York - #China is toxic for foreigners....…
Yang Hengjun had been held in Beijing for several months without charge, but Payne said the author & scholar was formally arrested on August 23. “We have serious concerns for Dr Yang’s welfare, and about the conditions under which he is being been held,” she said in a statement.
“If Dr Yang is being held for his political beliefs, he should be released,” Payne said, expressing concern about “harsh conditions”. “We expect, that basic standards of justice and procedural fairness are met,” she said.
China’s near silence about Yang’s fate and the refusal to grant consular access has been a point of friction in relations that have markedly deteriorated in recent months.
“Dr Yang has been held in Beijing in harsh conditions without charge for more than seven months,” Payne said. “Since that time, China has not explained the reasons for Dr Yang’s detention, nor has it allowed him access to his lawyers or family visits.”
“They don’t specify what the espionage relates to,” The Australian cited Stary as saying. “But we are told it is espionage and it relates to his democracy activism.”
At the time of his detention, the Foreign Ministry in Beijing said Yang was being investigated for “criminal activities endangering national security.” Yang previously was a Chinese foreign affairs official in Beijing, before becoming an Australian citizen and novelist.
Dr Feng Chongyi, an academic at the University of Technology Sydney and a friend of Yang’s, was detained for a week and interrogated by authorities in China over a study trip in 2017. He said there was no evidence to support any allegation of spying against Yang.
“I am furious at the news,” he said. “This is outrageous political persecution. I hope the international community will join hands to demand the release of Yang.”
Yaqiu Wang, a China researcher for Human Rights Watch, said: “While we don’t know the details of Yang’s case, the Chinese government has a record of deploying vague ‘national security’ charges to prosecute peaceful critics.”
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