Australian writer says “tortured” in Chinese prison News from Australia


Yang Jun tells supporters that he was mistreated while being held in a secret detention facility after his arrest in 2019.

An Australian academic on trial in China for espionage has told supporters he was tortured into custody and does not yet know which country he is accused of spying on.

Yang Jun, of Chinese descent, said he was mistreated while detained in a secret detention facility after being detained more than two years ago.

“The first six months … it was a very bad period. I was tortured, “he said in a message seen by AFP.

“I’ve been incarcerated in a worse place than prison for over two years now.”

The trial of the 56-year-old academic began behind closed doors on Thursday and the Australian ambassador to Beijing denied access.

Yang said he can only eat with two teeth due to dental problems and was “tired and confused” during Thursday’s hearing, in which he “didn’t have the spirit to talk enough.”

“I only spoke for three to five minutes. My own defense was not so good.

Yang insisted he is “100 percent innocent” and said he had tried and failed to have the records of his interrogation dismissed.

“It is illegal. Torture, ”he said, accusing authorities of using a“ hidden camera ”.

“The interrogations they had subjected me to, where they told me I had to confess … Maybe someone was taking revenge on me.”

Yang also said he failed in a petition to be allowed to present evidence and call witnesses in his own defense.

Beijing has said the process can be kept legally secret because it involves “state secrets” and has criticized Australia for “interference” at a time of deteriorating relations between the two nations.

Yang, who also bears the pen name Yang Hengjun, also said he was still unclear by whom he was accused of spying.

“This is not a crime of ideology. The charges are espionage. But who did he work for? If this is a crime and if I am a criminal, who have I worked for? I didn’t work in Australia or the United States, “he said.

“I only write for people. Writing for the rule of law, democracy and freedom ”.

Yang reportedly worked in China’s foreign ministry in Hainan province, although Beijing has denied this.

He is believed to have left mainland China for Hong Kong in 1992 and then traveled to the United States five years later, where he worked for the Atlantic Council think tank.

He later adopted Australian citizenship – although Beijing does not recognize dual nationality – and wrote a series of espionage novels and a popular blog in Chinese.

Yang disappeared once before in China, in 2011, and described his disappearance as a “misunderstanding” when it resurfaced days later.

Beijing has said almost no details of the case against him since he was arrested.

The country’s judicial system convicts most people who go to trial and espionage charges can carry a life sentence.

Relations between Canberra and Beijing have deteriorated dramatically in recent years, with disputes mostly ranging from telecommunications giant Huawei to the origins of COVID-19 and human rights issues in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

In return, China has imposed billions on Australian exports worth billions of dollars and cut diplomatic channels between the two nations.

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