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© Reuters. Australia’s Ambassador to China, Graham Fletcher, walks out of the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate Individuals’s Court docket, the place Australian author Yang Hengjun is anticipated to face trial on espionage costs, after not getting entry, in Beijing, China Could 27, 2021. RE

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By Cate Cadell and Kirsty Needham

BEIJING (Reuters) -Australia’s ambassador to China was denied entry to a closely guarded Beijing courtroom on Thursday that’s listening to an espionage case towards Australian blogger Yang Hengjun, at a time of worsening ties between the 2 nations.

China stated the case concerned state secrets and techniques and so couldn’t be heard in open courtroom. Yang, an Australian citizen born in China, wrote about Chinese language and U.S. politics on-line as a high-profile blogger and in addition penned a sequence of spy novels earlier than his detention two years in the past.

Ambassador Graham (NYSE:) Fletcher stated it was “deeply regrettable” that he was unable to enter the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate Individuals’s Court docket regardless of a bilateral consular pact permitting for diplomatic attendance at such hearings.

He informed reporters outdoors the courtroom that Australia had long-standing considerations a few lack of transparency in Yang’s case and “have concluded it’s an occasion of arbitrary detention”.

Chinese language overseas ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian informed a daily press briefing that “nobody is allowed to sit down in on the trial” as a result of nature of the case towards Yang. Zhao stated the courtroom would announce its verdict at a later date.

“China firmly rejects Australia’s groundless strikes to disrupt China’s dealing with of the case in accordance with the regulation and to meddle in our judicial sovereignty,” he stated.

Human Rights Watch stated it was “alarming” that Chinese language authorities had denied observer standing to Australian diplomats.

SECRECY

Diplomatic ties between the 2 nations have deteriorated sharply since Yang was detained, with China imposing commerce sanctions on produce from Australia and reacting angrily to its name for a world inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, in addition to its 5G ban on telecoms big Huawei.

Particulars of the Yang case have been shrouded in secrecy, with no data launched on which espionage company he’s alleged to have acted for. If convicted Yang faces a jail time period of 10 years or extra on costs of endangering nationwide safety.

Human rights attorneys Mo Shaoping and Shang Baojun represented Yang at Thursday’s proceedings, which continued into the afternoon as his attorneys responded to the costs, a pal of Yang’s with data of the matter informed Reuters.

Yang’s spouse, Xiaoliang, was unable to attend the courtroom listening to after her utility was rejected, pals informed Reuters.

She hasn’t seen Yang because the couple had been stopped on the southern airport of Guangzhou in January 2019 after arriving from New York, the place they lived.

In earlier messages handed to consular officers, Yang has denied the espionage accusations towards him and vowed to not confess to one thing he had not achieved.

In his final message to household and pals in Australia earlier than the listening to, Yang stated in March that his well being had deteriorated however he had “no worry”.

“If somebody needs to take revenge on me for my writings, please clarify to the folks inside China what I did, and the importance of my writing to folks in China,” he stated, based on a replica of the message seen by Reuters.

Australia’s Overseas Minister Marise Payne informed ABC radio: “We’re not interfering in China’s authorized system. The considerations we now have raised are official ones.”

Yang’s January 2019 detention got here concurrently a Chinese language police crackdown on potential overseas interference and “color revolution”.

Yang had beforehand been arrested in 2011 in China on suspicion of being concerned within the short-lived “Jasmine Revolution” protests and launched after three days.

He wrote in a letter to his supporters in Australia after he was launched that he had as soon as labored for the Chinese language state safety company in Hong Kong and Washington, earlier than migrating to Australia in 1999.

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