The Australian writer and pro-democracy activist of Chinese origin Yang Hengjun was sentenced on Monday by a court of to a suspended death sentence, after spending five years in detention on espionage charges, in a case that is generating political tension between Beijing and Canberra.

Wang Wenbina spokesman for the Foreign Ministry Chinaconfirmed that the justice system “sentenced him to death with a two-year suspension of execution and confiscated all his personal property.”

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The AFP agency highlighted that in a case like this in Chinathe suspended death sentence is commuted to life imprisonment after two years of imprisonment.

Yang, 57, has always rejected accusations of espionage.

From AustraliaThe family of Yang She said she was shocked and devastated by the court’s decision.

In this note, we tell you who he is Yang Hengjunhow he ended up in prison and what the reaction of the Australian Government has been.

Yang Hengjun and his wife Yuan Xiaoliang. (Chongyi Feng via AP, File).

Who is Yang Hengjun?

Yang Hengjun He is a novelist and blogger what is supporter of the democratization of the Chinese regime. He has written spy novels that were published in Taiwan.

Before being arrested, He also wrote about political issues in China and the United States. in a successful Blog.

He has been a diplomat in China and has worked for him Ministry of State Security of that country.

Since 2002 he has been a citizen of Australiaa nation to which he emigrated in 1998.

Australia's ambassador to China, Graham Fletcher, speaks to journalists outside the Second Intermediate People's Court in Beijing, on May 27, 2021. (Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP).

Australia’s ambassador to China, Graham Fletcher, speaks to journalists outside the Second Intermediate People’s Court in Beijing, on May 27, 2021. (Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP).

/ NICOLAS ASFOURI

When were you arrested and under what charge?

Yang lived in New Yorkbut in 2019 he was detained during a stopover at the airport in Guangzhouwhen along with his wife and son, both Chinese citizens, he traveled to Australia.

The Chinese authorities They accused him of spying for a foreign country. Beijing has not revealed further details of the accusation.

In May 2021, he was tried in Beijing in a day-long closed-door hearing. The verdict was not reported at the time.

According to the British newspaper associate professor Chongyi Fengsupervisor of the doctorate of Yang in Australia and defender in his case, said that the writer’s sentence would become life imprisonment and described the ruling as a “scandalous political persecution.”

“The doctor Yang He did not commit any crime of espionage. This [siendo] punished by the Chinese Government for his criticism of human rights abuses in China and for its defense of universal values ​​such as human rights, democracy and the rule of law”Chongyi indicated.

According to the the director of Human Rights Watch Asia, Elaine Pearsonsaid that the case of Yang raises an “infinity” of concerns about due process and that the result is “scandalous”.

“He has had delayed and limited access to legal representation, a closed-door trial, and Yang himself has denounced torture and forced confessions during their interrogations,” Pearson told the BBC.

In 2021, Yang denounced having been tortured in a secret location, and said he feared a forced confession would be used against him.

Yang Hengjun He can still appeal the sentence, the British press said.

Meanwhile, his family residing in Australia He has said that he is in poor health and is not receiving medical treatment.

In August 2023, Yang stated that he feared for his life in prison due to a problem with a kidney cyst.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong in an image from May 18, 2023. (Photo by LISA MARIE DAVID / POOL / AFP).

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong in an image from May 18, 2023. (Photo by LISA MARIE DAVID / POOL / AFP).

/ LISA MARIE DAVID

What has Australia said?

The government of Australia is “shocked” by the sentence, the Foreign Minister of that country said on Monday, Penny Wong.

At a press conference, Wong He maintained that Canberra will give its response “in the strongest terms,” and announced that The Chinese ambassador to his country will be summoned to protest the sentence against Yang.

He added that his country will continue “pressing for the interests and well-being of the Dr. Yangincluding appropriate medical treatment, and we will provide consular assistance to him and his family.”

Last year, relatives of Yang They sent a letter to the Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albaneseto express his concern at the “rapid” worsening of the writer’s health and to plead that he do “everything in his power” to secure his release during an official visit he made to China last November.



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