The Australian Ambassador was denied entry into a Chinese courtroom where a citizen was charged with espionage.
On Thursday, the Australian ambassador to China was denied access to the country’s espionage trial of a Chinese Australian writer. A Chinese envoy informed Ambassador Graham Fletcher that he would not be able to attend Yang Hengjun’s trial because it was a national security matter.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, defended the move, saying that observers are not permitted in trials involving state secrets. Meanwhile, Fletcher expressed his disappointment, saying, “This is profoundly regretful, disturbing, and unacceptable.” We’ve been concerned about this case for a long time, including a lack of openness, and have concluded that it’s an arbitrary detention.”
Before becoming a novelist, Yang purportedly served as an intelligence agent for China’s Ministry of State Security. He has rejected the allegations against him. Since being imprisoned upon arrival in China in January 2019, he has not seen his family. His lawyer, Mo Shaoping, said the trial ended in the afternoon and that a decision would be reached soon.
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According to the Australian authorities, Yang has only had limited contact with his lawyer.
Fletcher traveled to the court complex gate in Beijing and returned after being denied entrance, telling press that ambassadors being unable to observe the trial was “regrettable.”
According to Fletcher, China has simply stated that Yang is being charged with espionage.
Authorities have not provided any information on Yang’s charges. Yang’s attorney declined to comment further, claiming that “the matter contains state secrets.”
While a conviction is very certain, the date on which the verdict will be delivered is unknown. The crime of espionage entails penalties that range from three years in jail to death.
Yang said the lack of fresh air and sunshine had taken a toll on his health, but that spiritually, “I’m still strong,” in remarks thought to have been dictated to diplomats in March and published in Australian media.
Yang stated, “There is nothing more liberating than having one’s worst fears realized.”
Last month, Australian officials met with Fletcher via video link and were able to send and receive messages to and from his family, according to Fletcher. Yang appeared to be in good health, according to Fletcher.
Australia would continue to “strongly advocate” for Yang and sees no relation between his case and the general situation. This is a condensed version of the information.