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 worries me 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 author, blogger and pro-democracy activist is He was arrested when he arrived at Guangzhou Airport in January 2019 With his wife, if he is convicted of “endangering national security and causing particularly serious harm to the country and the people”, he will face the death sentence. The minimum sentence is three years.
The Australian government has long denied allegations of being an Australian spy. Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the 2019 allegations as “absolutely untrue.” Canberra calls Yang’s detention “unacceptable”.
According to information from Amnesty International, Yang may have faced as many as 300 interrogations while in prison so far.
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.”
Feng said that his goal with other liberals such as Yang Zhiyuan is 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”, calling him “ideal and ambitious.”
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 are based on Yang’s ministry experience. Although they are not published in the form of books in China, they are published on the Internet under a pseudonym.
Yang and Feng first contacted online. The former moved to Australia in 2000 and began studying at the 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 holding conferences on Chinese liberalism and democracy.
Feng said that Yang’s father (teacher and teacher) “was prosecuted by the regime. [and] There has never been a good relationship or opinion about 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 Maris 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 his legal representation.”
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 SpavorYang had been detained a month before and allowed only limited consular contact. They were accused of espionage in March. 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 Ministry of Foreign Affairs 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 judicial organs handle the case in accordance with the law and fully protect the legitimate rights and interests of the persons involved.” “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 due to Australia’s requirements for a field investigation of the origin of COVID-19 in Wuhan City, the country’s first case first 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.
China recently accused Uyghur Australians of “terrorism” crimes. Last month, Chinese Ambassador to Canberra Cheng Jingye described allegations of Uighur human rights violations 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: “Yang’s case further proves that isolated detention, compulsory interrogation, secret hearings, and blatant denial of fair trial guarantees for 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 has committed an internationally recognized crime, he 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 appeal to 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. “