A Chinese court handed down a suspended death sentence to the Australian-Chinese writer Yang Hengjun

According to Australian officials, the sentence can be changed to life imprisonment after two years, world agencies write on Monday

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Hengjun, Photo: Screenshot/Youtube
Hengjun, Photo: Screenshot/Youtube
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

Australian-Chinese writer Yang Hengjun has been given a suspended death sentence by a Chinese court, five years after he was arrested and charged with espionage.

According to Australian officials, the sentence can be changed to life imprisonment after two years, world agencies write on Monday.

Yang - a scholar and novelist who wrote a blog about Chinese affairs - denies the allegations against him, which have never been made public.

The Australian government, which sought his release, is appalled by the decision and will convey its response to Beijing in the strongest possible terms, said Penny Wong, Australia's foreign minister.

"We have consistently called for basic standards of justice, procedural fairness and humane treatment for Dr. Yang, in accordance with international norms and China's legal obligations. We will not relent in our advocacy," she said.

Yang, who previously worked for China's Ministry of State Security, advocated democracy in his writings but often avoided direct criticism of the government.

The 57-year-old was arrested at Guangzhou Airport in January 2019 and charged with espionage. His case has been largely behind closed doors since then, including a secret trial in 2021.

Australian officials have often raised concerns about the treatment of Yang, but have been warned by China's Foreign Ministry not to interfere in the case and to respect the nation's judicial sovereignty.

While in custody, Jang was interrogated more than 300 times, and was intensively tortured for six months, according to his family.

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