'No basis' for writer's arrest in China: Australia

Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on August 28, 2019 - Duration: 01:42s

'No basis' for writer's arrest in China: Australia

Australia Foreign Minister Marise Payne said that there was no basis for the allegations of spying that China has charged Australian writer and former Chinese diplomat Yang Hengjun with.

Yang was detained in China since January and was formally arrested on Friday, according to officials.

Jayson Albano reports.


'No basis' for writer's arrest in China: Australia

Australia has denied a writer arrested in China could be a spy.

Yang Hengjun has been detained in China since January and only recently formally arrested on espionage charges.

It's an offense punishable by death in China.

Beijing informed Australian officials Friday (August 23), Yang's been transferred to criminal detention.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne spoke to the press on Wednesday (August 28).

(SOUNDBITE) (English) AUSTRALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER MARISE PAYNE, SAYING: "We are seeking for Doctor Yang's detention - obviously - for him to be released in the first instance, particularly if he is only being held for his political beliefs.

But most importantly that if he is to be detained, that he is detained in accordance with the expectations accorded to him through conventions and international law and they include access to lawyers, they include appropriate conditions of detention.

On Tuesday (August 27), China's Foreign Ministry told Australia to respect its judicial sovereignty and warned it not to interfere with China's handling of the case.

Yang was born in China and was a Chinese diplomat.

He became a prominent online journalist and blogger.

On Tuesday Yang's wife, Yuan Ruijian, also denied he was working as a spy.

(SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) WIFE OF ARRESTED WRITER YANG HENGJUN, YUAN RUIJIAN, SAYING: "There's no way I can associate him with the word 'spying'.

We don't have any contact with the authorties or any government officials, we can't reach them even if we want to.

We are just ordinary people.

He just wrote some articles." (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) WIFE OF ARRESTED WRITER YANG HENGJUN, YUAN RUIJIAN, SAYING: "The whole family has collapsed, and could't believe it.

But they are not surprised either, because he had been writing articles that are related to politics in recent years.

His family had always feared that this day would come." Yuan, who is herself an Australian permanent resident, has also been barred from leaving China.

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