Millennium Post

Beijing confirms arrest of Australian for spying

Beijing: An Australian academic has been arrested in China for spying, Beijing said Tuesday, prompting Canberra to demand the country upholds "basic standards" of justice.

Yang Jun, who also goes by his pen name Yang Hengjun, was detained in January shortly after making a rare return to China from the United States.

Beijing said he was formally arrested last Friday and that the case was being "further processed." Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said earlier on Tuesday that she was "very concerned" that Yang — a former official turned author — had been arrested on "suspicion of espionage".

"We expect that basic standards of justice and procedural fairness are met," she added.

After months without access to his lawyer or family, Yang now faces trial on charges that could bring a lengthy prison sentence.

China's near-silence about Yang's fate has been a point of friction in relations with Australia that have markedly deteriorated in recent months.

In a sharply worded statement, Payne said she had raised the case five times with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, in person and via letters.

"Dr Yang has been held in Beijing in harsh conditions without charge for more than seven months," Payne said, referencing international rules prohibiting torture.

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