Take Action for Banned Books Week 2020
Release Yang Hengjun Immediately
Yang Hengjun is a prominent writer and blogger known for his often outspoken commentary on Chinese public affairs. He moved to Australia in 1999 and became a citizen in 2002.
Between 2002 and 2005, he wrote a trilogy of spy novels about a China‐US double agent that was published on his blog site. Yang earned a Ph.D. in 2009 at the University of Technology, Sydney in Chinese Studies with a dissertation titled “The Internet and China: The Impacts of Netizen Reporters and Bloggers on Democratization in China.” Prior to his detention, he was a visiting scholar at Columbia University.
Yang flew to the city of Guangzhou with his family in January 2019 and was detained by police upon arrival. He was initially held in “residential surveillance at a designated location,” which allows the government to hold individuals for up to six months outside the formal detention system in what can amount to a form of secret incommunicado detention.
He was formally arrested in August 2019 and is believed to be held in the Beijing State Security Bureau Detention Center, where he has been denied consular access since December 30, 2019. In March 2020, Chinese authorities finally announced it would charge Yang with espionage. He has denied that he was ever a spy for any government.
Individuals convicted of espionage face a minimum of three years’ imprisonment. Those deemed to have caused “particularly serious harm to the country and the people” may be sentenced to death. Suspects in national security trials are regularly deprived of procedural rights afforded to ordinary suspects, including access to legal counsel of their choice and the right to a public hearing.
Updated on Aug 24, 2020.