A court in China sentenced Australian writer Yang Hengjun to the death penalty with a two-year reprieve. Ego was detained in 2019 at the Guangzhou airport on suspicion of espionage.
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said that the Australian government was shocked by such a decision. “As we understand, the sentence can be replaced by life imprisonment after two years, if the person does not commit any serious crimes during the two-year period”, – wrote Wong on X social networks. She also talked about calling the Chinese ambassador to express Canberra’s objection “in the strongest possible terms.”
The trial of the writer was held on May 27, 2021 in closed session. The Chinese authorities did not disclose the details of the case, and the details of the charges are also unknown. The writer denied the accusation.
Yang Hengjun was born in China and has Australian citizenship. Until 2019, he worked in New York. Hengjun criticized the Chinese authorities for violating human rights.
Yang’s scientific supervisor in Australia, Feng Chongyi, called the sentence “outrageous political persecution.”
“Dr. Yang did not commit any espionage crimes. The Chinese government is punishing him for criticizing human rights violations in China and for defending universal values such as human rights, democracy and the rule of law,” Feng said.
He also talked about the writer’s health problems. “Five years of arrest and torture took a heavy toll on his health. Now he is seriously ill,” Feng said. He called on Australia to achieve medical parole.
The official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Wang Wenbin, said that the writer can file an appeal against the court’s decision.