Australian Writer Says “Tortured” in Chinese Prison | Australia News
Yang Jun told his supporters he was mistreated while being held in a secret detention facility after his arrest in 2019.
An Australian academic tried in China for espionage told his supporters he had been tortured in detention and still did not know which country he was accused of spying for.
Yang Jun, of Chinese descent, said he was mistreated while being held in a secret detention facility after being taken into custody more than two years ago.
âThe first six monthsâ¦ were a really bad time. They tortured me, âhe said in a message seen by AFP.
âI’ve been held in a place worse than prison for over two years now.
The trial of a 56-year-old scholar began behind closed doors on Thursday, with Australia’s ambassador to Beijing denied entry.
Yang said he could only eat with two teeth due to dental problems and was “tired and confused” during Thursday’s hearing, in which he “did not have enough mind to speak”.
âI only spoke for three to five minutes. My own defense was not that good.
Yang insisted he was “100% innocent” and said he tried and failed to have his interrogation records rejected.
âIt’s illegal. Torture,â he said, accusing the authorities of using a âhidden cameraâ.
âThe interrogations I had been subjected to, where I was told I had to confessâ¦ Maybe someone was taking revenge on me.
Yang also said he failed in his plea to be allowed to present evidence and call witnesses in his own defense.
Beijing said the trial could legally be held in secret because it involved “state secrets” and criticized Australia for its “interference” at a time when relations between the two nations were deteriorating.
Yang, who also goes by the pen name Yang Hengjun, also said he still did not know who he was accused of spying for.
âIt is not a crime of ideology. The charges relate to espionage. But who did I work for? If it’s a crime, and if I’m a criminal, then who did I work for? I didn’t work for Australia or the United States, âhe said.
âI only write for people. Write for the rule of law, democracy and freedom. “
Yang is said to have previously worked at the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Hainan Province – although this has been denied by Beijing.
He is believed to have left mainland China for Hong Kong in 1992, then traveled to the United States five years later, where he worked for the Atlantic Council think tank.
He later took Australian citizenship – although Beijing does not recognize dual citizenship – and wrote a series of spy novels and a popular Chinese-language blog.
Yang had been reported missing in China once before, in 2011, describing his disappearance as a “misunderstanding” when he resurfaced a few days later.
Beijing has given almost no details on the case against him since he was taken into custody.
The country’s justice system convicts most of those who stand trial, and espionage charges can carry a life sentence.
Relations between Canberra and Beijing have deteriorated sharply in recent years, with disputes over everything from telecommunications giant Huawei to the origins of COVID-19 and human rights issues in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
China in turn imposed tariffs on Australia’s multibillion-dollar exports and cut diplomatic channels between the two nations.