In a surprising turn of events, a court in Beijing pronounced a death sentence to Australian journalist Yang Hengjun on Monday. The sentence, however, has been suspended. The shockwaves of this decision impacted Yang’s family who were left devastated by the news. The family’s spokesperson, based in Sydney, communicated their heartbreak. They were made aware of the verdict directly by the court.
The trial was conducted in a secretive manner, behind the closed doors, away from the public eye. The Australian government expressed its deep shock and displeasure at the court’s decision. In response, they have summoned the Chinese ambassador to express their concern. Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong made this announcement on Monday. Yang Hengjun, although an Australian citizen, was born in China. His career spans across being an online journalist and a former Chinese diplomat. He penned his thoughts on the intricate dynamics of Chinese and American politics. He also authored a series of spy novels before his unfortunate arrest.
Yang was arrested in August 2019 at the Guangzhou airport. The charges leveled against him were of espionage. Since then, he has been in custody. The crime of espionage carries the death penalty in China. Prior to this, the Australian Foreign Ministry had already raised objections to China’s prison conditions. They had urged that Hengjun be treated as per the international standards. However, the government in Beijing dismissed these concerns, asking Australia not to meddle. (Source: Reuters)