Fears that Australian author Yang Hengjun may die in Chinese prison as medical condition worsens

Friends of an Australian writer detained by China on suspicion of espionage fear that his deteriorating health may see him eventually die behind bars.

Yang Hengjun has again declared his innocence ahead of the three-year anniversary of his arrest by Chinese authorities at Guangzhou airport in January 2019.

“Sometimes I’m pessimistic, and sometimes I’m optimistic – I’m convinced I did not do what they said I did,” said Dr. Yang in a message conveyed to supporters before Christmas from a Beijing jail.

Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.

The 56-year-old is thought to suffer from severe problems with arthritis, high uric acid, high blood pressure, impaired vision and dizziness.

Recent blood tests have revealed rising levels of creatinine, which has given rise to fears that Dr. Yang may be suffering from kidney failure, but a Chinese prison doctor has not been able to give any treatment or advice on treatment.

Author urges Beijing to reveal details of his case

Last year, Dr Yang faced a one-day secret trial in Beijing, but relatives and Australian diplomats were denied access to the closed trial due to apparent COVID-19 restrictions and national security reasons.

A verdict in the case has again been delayed until at least April, when supporters call for him to be released immediately on bail for medical treatment because he fears he could die in prison like other Chinese dissidents, including Liu Xiaobo.

While awaiting a ruling by a Chinese judge, the Australian citizen demands that local authorities “open my case and make it public” in order to “provide details to the world, the Australian Government and the country”.

“We should apply to open the case and you can see for yourself. They said it was about espionage. I hope it is only about Chinese judicial corruption.”

“I have seen news that China is smashing corruption in the justice system. This is just one example,” he said. Yang told family and followers.

Australian diplomats have had limited access to Dr. Yang, since he was detained and he is currently detained in a crowded cell without sunlight where lights are on all night and prisoners share a shared, open toilet and sleep on a hard floor with not enough space to stretch.

The Australian government has repeatedly protested against China’s secret handling of Dr. Yang’s espionage charges and accused Beijing of “arbitrary detention” of the author.


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