Australia challenges China over arrest of writer on espionage charges, claims citizen being held in 'harsh' conditions

  • Yang, who was born in China, was detained in the southern city of Guangzhou in January amid growing tension between Australia and its largest trading partner

  • Yang’s Australian lawyer, Robert Stary, was not immediately available for comment

  • Yang, 53, whose legal name is Yang Jun, was detained in China while waiting for a transfer to Shanghai, after flying in from New York

Sydney – Australian writer Yang Hengjun has been formally arrested in China on suspicion of espionage and is being held in "harsh conditions", the Australian government said on Tuesday.

 Australia challenges China over arrest of writer on espionage charges, claims citizen being held in harsh conditions

File image of Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne. ANI

Yang, who was born in China, was detained in the southern city of Guangzhou in January amid growing tension between Australia and its largest trading partner.

"We have serious concerns for Dr Yang’s welfare, and about the conditions under which he is being been held," Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement.

"Dr Yang has been held in Beijing in harsh conditions without charge for more than seven months,"  she added.

"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."

Yang’s Australian lawyer, Robert Stary, was not immediately available for comment.

Yang, 53, whose legal name is Yang Jun, was detained in China while waiting for a transfer to Shanghai, after flying in from New York.

Although Yang’s recent writing has mostly avoided Chinese politics, he became prominent in the early 2000s when he earned the nickname "democracy peddler".

Updated Date: Aug 27, 2019 09:05:28 IST