Urgent Action Update: Australian-Chinese Writer Charged with Espionage (China: UA 98.20)

September 9, 2020

Yang Hengjun, held incommunicado since 30 December 2019, was finally able to meet with an Australian consular representative and his lawyer on 31 August and 3 September, respectively. Yang continues to deny all allegations of espionage. In light of a news report stating that Yang Hengjun has already endured more than 300 interrogations, there are grave concerns that he might be subjected to torture or other ill-treatment without continued regular access to consular and lawyer’s visits.



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Chief Procurator Zhang Yukun
Beijing No. 2 People’s Procuratorate
18, Zhifang Lu,
Fengtai Qu,
Beijing Shi, 100078
People’s Republic of China
Ambassador Cui Tiankai
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
3505 International Place NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 495 2266 I Fax: 202 495 2138
Email: [email protected] [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador


Dear Chief Procurator Zhang,

I am writing to express my concern for Australian-Chinese writer Yang Hengjun (杨恒均), whose criminal case on charges of “espionage” is currently being reviewed by your procuratorate. He was taken into police custody at Guangzhou airport on 19 January 2019. Detained at Beijing State Security Bureau Detention Center, without confirmation that he will have regular access to consular and lawyer’s visit, and with reports that he has already endured long hours in interrogation, he may subject to torture and other ill-treatment.

Although I am relieved to learn that after being held incommunicado for more than eight months, Yang Hengjun was finally allowed to meet online with an Australian consular representative on 31 August and have an in-person meeting with his lawyer on 3 September, it is distressing to read reports that Yang Hengjun has endured more than 300 interrogations by 30 different people for hours at a time in the middle of the night. Furthermore, the lights in his cell are apparently switched on 24 hours a day. Under these incredibly stressful conditions, I fear that Yang’s mental and physical health will rapidly deteriorate, and he would be unable to recover. I fear that without regular to his defense lawyer and consular access, he may be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment while in detention.

I find it worrying that Yang will face a closed-door trial for espionage, an allegation he continues to strongly deny. As stated in Article 10 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), everyone is entitled in to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

I call on you to release Yang Hengjun immediately and unconditionally, unless there is sufficient credible and admissible evidence that he has committed an internationally recognized offense and is granted a fair trial in line with international standards; pending his release, ensure that Yang Hengjun has regular, unrestricted access to consular visits, is able to meet and communicate with family and lawyers of his choice and is not subjected to torture and other ill-treatment; and allow him prompt, regular and unrestricted access to medical care on request, or as necessary.

Yours sincerely,