Australia lambasts 'arbitrary detention' of academic in China

WION Web Team
Sydney, Australia Updated: May 28, 2021, 05:46 PM(IST)

File photo: Scott Morrison and Xi Jinping Photograph:( Twitter )

Story highlights

Australia's ambassador to China was denied entry to a heavily guarded Beijing court on Thursday that is hearing an espionage case against Yang, at a time of worsening ties between the two nations.

Australia's foreign minister hit out at the "arbitrary detention" of academic and writer Yang Jun Friday after a verdict in his closed espionage trial was deferred by a Beijing court.

Australia's ambassador to China was denied entry to a heavily guarded Beijing court on Thursday that is hearing an espionage case against Yang, at a time of worsening ties between the two nations.

China said the case involved state secrets and so could not be heard in open court. Yang, an Australian citizen born in China, wrote about Chinese and US politics online as a high-profile blogger and also penned a series of spy novels before his detention two years ago.

"China firmly rejects Australia's groundless moves to disrupt China's handling of the case in accordance with the law and to meddle in our judicial sovereignty," Zhao said at the news conference.

Details of the Yang case have been shrouded in secrecy, with no information released on which espionage agency he is alleged to have acted for. If convicted Yang faces a jail term of 10 years or more on charges of endangering national security.

Another Australian, TV anchor Cheng Lei has been held since August accused of "supplying state secrets overseas".

Diplomatic relations between the two countries have plummeted since Canberra called for an independent probe into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic and banned telecoms giant Huawei from building Australia's 5G network.

China has already imposed tariffs or disrupted more than a dozen key industries, including wine, barley and coal, decimating exports.

In September, two Australian journalists were rushed out of China after police sought to question them. 

Beijing has accused Canberra of raiding the homes of Chinese state media journalists as Australia investigates an alleged campaign of covert influence.

(With inputs from agencies)

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