Detained Australian writer Yang Hengjun is accused of espionage and his case is currently being heard by a Beijing court, China’s foreign ministry spokesman says.
The 55-year-old blogger was detained by Chinese authorities in January 2019 at Guangzhou Airport after arriving from New York.
He has been held in a Beijing detention facility with no access to his family, while his wife Yuan Xiaoliang remains in China.
Speaking at a daily news briefing in Beijing on Monday, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Yang had been indicted on charges of espionage on October 7 and Chinese authorities were fully protecting his rights.
#Chinese-born Australian Yang Jun – or #YangHengjun – has been officially charged with espionage and his case transferred to #Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court for prosecution. The case is under trial and Chinese authorities will protect his legal rights: Chinese FM pic.twitter.com/Ei0B9LPG9G
— Rita Bai Yunyi (@RitaBai) October 12, 2020
“The Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court has filed and accepted the case according to law,” Zhao said.
The first hearing of the case was ongoing, he said.
Yang told his family in a message last month that he was innocent and would “never confess to something I haven’t done”.
Diplomatic relations between China and Australia have deteriorated this year, after Beijing imposed trade reprisals in response to Canberra leading calls for an international inquiry into the source of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last month China’s foreign ministry confirmed another Australian, Chinese state television host Cheng Lei, had been detained in Beijing and was being investigated on suspicion of endangering national security.