Yang Hengjun, a pro-democracy blogger, was arrested in China five years ago on charges of espionage, and three years later, he was convicted. The recent verdict has left Australia’s foreign minister in shock, prompting the summoning of the Chinese Ambassador to Australia by the Australian Foreign Ministry for further clarification.
Despite being born in China, Yang Hengjun holds Australian citizenship. Prior to his arrest in 2019, he had been working in New York. He was apprehended at Guangzhou airport under allegations of espionage, though Chinese authorities have yet to disclose the specifics of the case.
Yang Hengjun has consistently denied the charges against him, while his family has voiced concerns over his declining health and has accused Chinese authorities of subjecting him to torture.
The suspended death sentence imposed on Yang Hengjun implies that after a period of two years, the punishment may be commuted to life imprisonment without parole, contingent on his conduct during this time in custody.
Yang Hengjun, known for his academic work, blogging, and writing, has been a vocal critic of Chinese human rights violations. His supporters argue that his detention is politically motivated persecution by the Chinese government, aimed at stifling dissent.
This latest development is likely to strain relations between Australia and China, which had been showing signs of slight improvement.