/ 24 May 2021

China tells Oz to butt out on spy trial

Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s request for Australian-Chinese academic Dr Yang Hengjun to have access to his lawyer and consular officials ahead of his court hearing on Thursday has been called “deplorable” by China’s embassy here. Facing charges of espionage after being detained for 2 years, Payne was told to “respect China’s judicial sovereignty and refrain from interfering in any form in Chinese judicial authorities’ lawful handling of the case.” Payne says the request is the “bare minimum to conform with international norms of transparency” – a position backed by Labor’s Home Affairs Minister Kristina Keneally. The 56yo pro-democracy writer denies the charges and says he’s a victim of political persecution. Facing a similar predicament, Aussie news anchor Cheng Lei has been in detention in China for more than 9 months over accusations she leaked state secrets.

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