Australian spy novelist Yang Hengjun faces Chinese espionage censorship news


Melbourne, Australia -Yang Hengjun, a Chinese and Australian citizen, is expected to stand trial in China on Thursday, accused of espionage and accused of acting as a spy for the Australian government.

In a letter written in March and released on the eve of the trial, Yang was stoic.

He wrote in a letter to the Australian media: “Nothing is liberated than to realize what I worry about the most.” “I have no fear now. I will never compromise.

“The values ??and beliefs we share with our readers are greater than my own.”

The 56-year-old writer, blogger and pro-democracy activist is He was arrested when he arrived at Guangzhou Airport in January 2019 With his wife, if convicted of “endangering national security and causing particularly serious harm to the country and the people”, he will be sentenced to death. The minimum sentence is three years.

The Australian government has long denied allegations of acting as an Australian spy, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison described this statement in 2019 as “absolutely untrue.” Canberra calls Yang’s detention “unacceptable”.

According to information from Amnesty International, Yang may have faced as many as 300 interrogations so far in prison.

Feng Chongyi, a friend and colleague, said that the purpose of these interrogations was “to confess a confession” and “to bring a lawsuit against him.”

Mr. Feng is a resident of Sydney, Australia and self-styled as a “Chinese liberal”. He was detained by the Chinese government for a week in 2017 after receiving an academic visit.

Feng told Al Jazeera: “My detention is similar to Yang’s detention-trying to establish a spy case.” “But I am lucky that I got rid of Yang’s fate.”

Yang Hengjun is expected to be prosecuted for espionage in Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court [Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters]

Feng said that the goals of other liberals such as him and Yang Zhiyuan are to “promote the rule of law, human rights and democratization.”

“Of course, in doing so, we will criticize the current one-party dictatorship and analyze Chinese society, especially the relationship between the country and society.”

National security officials to activists, novelists

Since 2005, Feng called himself Yang a “friend and colleague” and called him “an ideal and ambitious person.”

Feng confirmed that Yang Zhiyuan had worked for China’s Ministry of National Security (MSS) for 14 years, which he said was “provincial level.”

But according to Feng, Yang was frustrated with his work on MSS and started writing spy novels to “get rid of a profession he no longer believed in.” [in] Or have any enthusiasm.”

These novels were written based on Yang’s ministry experience. Although they were not published in the form of books in China, they were published on the Internet under a pseudonym.

Yang and Feng first contacted online. The former moved to Australia in 2000 and started studying at Mr. Feng’s University of Technology Sydney 5 years later.

Feng said that Yang will specifically study “the possible impact of the Internet on the rule of the Chinese Communist Party. Therefore, he turned himself into a liberal.”

After Yang Gang graduated, the two collaborated on many joint publications, editing books, and conferences on Chinese liberalism and democracy.

Yang (right) saw it during a discussion in Vancouver in 2015. Feng sat next to him. The other guest was Xin Lijian, a businessman and educator from the Liberal Party. He had helped Yang before being sentenced to more than two years in prison. [Courtesy of Feng Chongyi]

Feng said that Yang’s father (teacher and teacher) “was prosecuted by the regime. [and] There has never been a good relationship or opinion on the dictatorship of the Communist Party. “

Therefore, he believes that it is this kind of influence, coupled with Feng’s instruction, that has turned Yang from a provincial government agent into an outspoken democracy activist.

Yang’s status as an Australian citizen has turned his detention and upcoming trial into an issue of international diplomacy.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a recent media statement: “Despite repeated requests from Australian officials, the Chinese authorities have not provided any explanation or evidence for the allegations faced by Dr. Yang.”

“Since his detention, Dr. Yang has been unable to meet with his family and has delayed contact with his legal representative.”

The statement also raised concerns that the trial will be a secret activity without the presence of Australian officials.

When Canadians shut out diplomats Michael Kovrig with Michael SpavorThey were detained one month before Yang in March and allowed only limited consular contact. They were therefore charged with espionage. Both are awaiting verdict. Chinese courts convicted 99% of the defendants.

Payne said: “We have clearly conveyed to the Chinese authorities our concerns about Dr. Yang’s treatment and the lack of procedural fairness in how to handle his case.”

“As a basic judicial standard, the opportunity for observers to be tried should be the minimum requirement to comply with international transparency standards.”

Australian Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that Yang’s trial will be conducted in accordance with Chinese law.

When asked about the case, Zhao told Al Jazeera: “The Chinese judiciary handles the case in accordance with the law and fully protects the legitimate rights and interests of the relevant personnel.” “As for the specific situation you mentioned, I don’t have any information to provide at this time. Here you are.”

Frayed diplomatic relations

Australia has a close trade relationship with China, but it has become frayed by Australia’s request for an on-site investigation of the origin of COVID-19 in Wuhan. The country’s first case appeared at the end of 2019.

Human rights violations against the Uyghur people have also attracted increasing attention, including the detention of Uyghur family members who are Australian citizens.

In August last year, Cheng Lei, an Australian citizen and TV anchor who worked for the national television station CGTN, disappeared.She also faces charges of espionage [File: Australia Global Alumni – Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade via Reuters]

China recently accused Uyghur Australians of “terrorism” crimes. Last month, Chinese Ambassador to Canberra Cheng Jingye described allegations of human rights violations against Uyghurs as “fake news” at a press conference.

Yang is not the only Australian detained in China. Cheng LeiIn August last year, the well-known commercial anchor of the state-owned television station CGTN disappeared. The following month, she was accused of endangering national security.

The detention has attracted the attention of global human rights organizations.

Joshua Rosenzweig, head of Amnesty International’s China team, said this week: “The allegations against Yang appear to be politically motivated to prosecute articles he wrote critical of the Chinese government. This is against the Chinese government. Cruel attacks on his right to freedom of speech.”

Rosenzweig added: “The case of Yang Zhiyuan further proves that isolated detentions, forced interrogations, secret hearings, and blatant denial of fair trial guarantees against vague allegations are Chinese authorities’ routines against government critics and human rights activists. Part of the show.

“Unless China can provide concrete, credible and acceptable evidence that Yang committed an internationally recognized crime, it must be released immediately and all charges dropped.”

However, his colleagues and friends had little hope. Feng believes that the trial will not end, allowing the authorities to detain him indefinitely.

He told Al Jazeera: “The current environment and the party’s determination to punish Yang means that they will impose severe penalties on him.”

“This is a serious violation of human rights. I must also call on the international community and the Australian government to save Yang and also defend the core values ??of human rights.”

Yang is a very close friend of mine. I have an obligation to rescue him and bring him back to Australia. “





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