Published: Wed, December 04, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Australia says China is holding detained writer in ‘unacceptable’ conditions

Australia says China is holding detained writer in ‘unacceptable’ conditions

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said she was "very concerned" by reports from Australian consular officials who recently visited Yang Hengjun and said he was being detained under "unacceptable" conditions, including isolation and daily interrogations, sometimes while shackled.

According to global reports, Australia has consistently lobbied Chinese authorities for Hengjun's release, however, the Chinese foreign ministry has told Australia to not interfere in the case, and to respect the nation's judicial sovereignty.

Beijing claims that the detainee's rights have been guaranteed and asked Australia to respect its judicial sovereignty and stop interfering with how it manages its cases.

"We join the government in calling for Dr Yang to be treated humanely and in accordance with worldwide human rights law, and for him to have access to his lawyer", Senator Wong said.

"We want to discuss problems with access to lawyers, focus on the Australian citizen, and ensure that his access to family and treatment is met". "This has not led to any substantive changes in his treatment".

Some analysts suspect that Yang has been arrested over China's anger over Australian legislation passed previous year by Parliament, which bans alien interference in Australian politics and institutions.

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Australia had been raising concerns about Yang's imprisonment "for some time", Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, adding that the welfare of an Australian citizen was paramount.

Australia has consistently lobbied Chinese authorities for his release.

China says it doesn't threaten or torture criminal suspects, but both practices are routinely alleged by those who produce confessions that they later retract.

On Friday, Hua called the accusations, strongly backed by witness testimony, "nothing but ridiculous farces, like some shoddy soap operas".

Three months ago, Beijing confirmed to the Australian government that Yang had been formally charged with espionage on August 23.

China has attempted to discredit Wang, saying he is a convicted fraudster wanted by Shanghai police.

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