'Help me': Aussie accused of spying in China pleads to return home

Elias Hubbard
August 29, 2019

Morrison mentioned Thursday the suggestion that Yang acted as a spy for Australia was "completely unfaithful".

"We make no apologies for standing up for one of our citizens", he told Nine's Today program on Thursday.

Charges against Yang were first made public Tuesday.

China has warned Australia not to interfere in its legal process, but Morrison said Australia will not be silenced. "The Chinese government commonly accuses its critics of operating as agents of foreign powers, and it seems that in this case they are willing to bring serious criminal charges against Yang in pursuit of a false narrative.

Now he is formally arrested", Mo Shaoping said. Yang frequently posted commentaries on Twitter and Weibo about U.S.

The 54-year-old was detained in Guangzhou in January after flying into the country from NY where he was living with his family and working as a visiting scholar at Columbia University.

"He said Australia was dependent on China for its trade and economy, and Canberra wouldn't help me, let alone rescue me".

The Chinese government has reacted sharply to Australia's pressure over Yang. McMahon previously represented the Bali Nine, accused drug traffickers who were sentenced to death in Indonesia in 2005.

Academic Yang Hengjun was formally arrested this week on suspicion of espionage, more than seven months after he was detained by Chinese authorities.

Beijing's influence in Australian politics, increasingly aggressive foreign policy and growing military clout in the Pacific have sparked concern in Canberra.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne told The Guardian that China's allegation against Yang was baseless and that Australian authorities are concerned for his welfare and the conditions under which he is being held.

Experts are concerned it may be a sign China won't be swayed by global pressure to release the 54-year-old, who's been held for more than seven months without charge.

Earlier this week, Yang's lawyer Rob Stary said China officially charged the writer with espionage.

The prime minister also denied Australia was interfering in his case.

"I want to emphasize that China is a country with the rule of law".

Morrison additionally pushed again towards Beijing's warning to Australia that it "should not intervene in any option to China's dealing with of the case".

"You start to hear people say, If my government has frictions with China, I'd better not be in China", Yaqiu Wang, a China researcher for the global advocacy group Human Rights Watch, told CNN earlier this year.

"The reasons for his detention should be clarified and we have said that if he's been detained for political reasons he should be released".

Two Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, have been detained in December.

Angus Watson reported from Hong Kong, Steven Jiang reported from Beijing.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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