PEN Sydney expresses public support for Australian journalist Yang Hengjun, who has been detained since January in an unknown location in China.
Chinese authorities have charged now him with spying, telling the Australian Embassy that he is “suspected of committing espionage crimes”. Espionage is punishable by death in China.
For the past 7 months, Yang was held under “residential” surveillance at a prison facility in southern Beijing. He was recently relocated to a different “criminal” detention centre in Beijing. 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.
Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne has said:
“It is important, and we expect, that basic standards of justice and procedural fairness are met. I respectfully reiterate my previous requests that if Dr Yang is being held for his political beliefs, he should be released.
“We expect Dr Yang to be treated in accordance with international human rights law, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with special attention to those provisions that prohibit torture and inhumane treatment, guard against arbitrary detention and that protect the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”
According to the MEAA, at no time during the past six months has Yang’s family or Australian consular officials been told what Yang is alleged to have done.
Yang is an Australian citizen and a journalist member of the MEAA. His arrest and detention without conviction amounts to an attack on press freedom and threatens the security of all international journalists trying to report from China.
As a blogger, he has written thousands of articles promoting the rule of law, democracy and human rights and built up a large following in China.
MEAA has written to China’s Ambassador to Australia regarding the arrest and detention of MEAA Media member Yang Hengjun. Read the letter. PEN Sydney supports the MEAA's message of solidarity.
PEN Sydney also supports Yang’s wife, Yuan Xiaolong, who has been detained and questioned on two separate occasions, banned from leaving the country and warned against speaking to foreign media.
PEN Sydney urges the Chinese government to release Yang and allow him and his wife to return to Australia.