The Conservative Party has expressed concern that Australian-Chinese writer Yang Hengjun has not had access to legal advice since his arrest in China last month.
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“Australia remains concerned that Mr Yang has not had access to legal representation during his detention, as we would for any Australian who is detained for lengthy periods of time,” a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs told The Weekend Australian yesterday.
The spokesperson said the government was unable to confirm reports that Yang had rejected lawyers who were appointed by his family to represent him after his arrest at Guangzhou international airport on January 19 after a flight from New York.
But Australian consular officials would raise the issue directly with him during their next visit, at the end of the month.
Yang, who has not been charged with any offence, is being held in “residential surveillance” at an undisclosed location in Beijing, with no access to visits by his family or lawyers appointed by his family. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said he had been arrested on suspicion of “criminal activities endangering state security”.
The phrase is a broad term, which includes allegations of spying and political subversion that could lead to him spending many years in jail if found guilty.
Lawyers appointed by the family of Yang, a Chinese-born Australian citizen, have been told by the Beijing State Security Bureau that he no longer wanted them to act for him, but have been unable to meet with him to confirm this in person.
One of his lawyers, Shang Baojun, told The Weekend Australian that they and his wife, who is living in Shanghai, are still trying to meet Yang to hear whether he wanted them to represent him.
Last year in the Senate, Senator Bernardi spelled out why a royal commission into Chinese Communist Party influence in Australia should be called.
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