Australian writer accused of being a spy still hasn’t been charged despite being shackled and held in solitary confinement for a YEAR, China confirms
- Yang Hengjun, 54, was accused of espionage in China in January this year
- Australian-Chinese writer is understood to be shackled and held on his own
- China’s ambassador to Australia confirmed that Dr Yang still hasn’t been charged
An Australian-Chinese writer’s legal rights are being protected as Chinese authorities investigate him over alleged espionage, China’s ambassador to Australia says.
Yang Hengjun, 54, has been arrested but is yet to be formally charged, ambassador Cheng Jingye told reporters at a rare media conference in Canberra on Thursday.
‘The relevant Chinese security department will deal with the case in accordance with Chinese law and his lawful rights are protected,’ Mr Cheng said.
Yang Hengjun (pictured with his wife Yuan Xiaoliang), 54, has been arrested but is yet to be formally charged, ambassador Cheng Jingye told reporters at a rare media conference in Canberra on Thursday
Dr Yang would be formally charged with espionage after an investigation, the ambassador said.
‘In due time you will know the details,’ he said.
He also said Dr Yang’s wife Yuan Xiaoliang, who has been banned from leaving China, would be protected.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne has said Dr Yang’s detention was ‘unacceptable’.
The pro-democracy campaigner is understood to be held in solitary confinement and shackled in chains, with restricted communications to family and friends.
Australia has previously asked for an explanation of the charges Dr Yang is facing and requested he be given access to his lawyers.
Dr Yang (pictured with his wife) would be formally charged with espionage after an investigation, the Chinese ambassador said
But when asked about the conditions Dr Yang was facing, Mr Cheng said ‘the lawful rights of the person in question are well protected’ and his health was ‘in good condition’.
‘We expect the Australian side to respect China’s … judicial sovereignty,’ he said.
Acting prime minister Michael McCormack said Australia had made strong representations to China about Dr Yang and still had concerns about his health.
‘We don’t have any details about what Dr Yang is accused of and, of course, we ask that he be released,’ Mr McCormack said.
‘He is an Australian citizen and we want him to be released and we will continue to pursue that.’
Dr Yang’s treatment only came to light after a visit by Australian consular staff.
He was detained in January 2019 after flying into China from New York where he had been a visiting scholar at Columbia University
The former official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing went on to become a pro-democracy campaigner. He became an Australian citizen in 2002.
Dr Yang and the Australian government deny the espionage allegations.