Australian writer Yang Jun’s sons urge Albanese to push for father’s release from China jail

The sons of an Australian writer jailed in China are hoping for his “miracle” release, urging Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to raise their father’s plight on his trip to Beijing.

Chinese-born Australian writer Yang Jun has been detained in China since 2019, accused of spying in a closed trial heavily criticised by human rights activists.

His health has rapidly deteriorated as a large cyst grows on his kidney, and his family now fears he will be “left to die” in detention.

In an open letter to Australian media – released on Wednesday ahead of Albanese’s November 4 trip to Beijing – Yang’s sons have asked the prime minister to “do all in your power to save our father’s life”.

“The risk of being left to die from medical maltreatment is especially clear to our father because he has seen it happen to his friends,” it reads.

‘Who can speak for me?’: Australian writer fears he will die in China prison

Australian journalist Cheng Lei – who was imprisoned in China on similarly opaque espionage charges – was freed earlier this month after three years in detention.

Cheng’s return followed sustained lobbying from the Australian government, raising hopes that Yang might also soon be released.

Yang’s sons said they hoped Albanese “can achieve a second miracle by saving our father”.

“Like Cheng Lei, our father cherishes the freedoms and protections that come with his Australian identity.”

His sons also described the “particularly cruel” treatment they believe their father is facing, deprived of his beloved books in a cramped room where he is forced to “eat, drink, defecate and urinate”.

“At most, some rays of sunlight occasionally come through one or two panes of glass and flicker fitfully,” Yang told his sons.


Australian journalist Cheng Lei in first interview since release from China detention

Australian journalist Cheng Lei in first interview since release from China detention

Yang, who denies the spying claims, was arrested on a rare trip back to China in January 2019.

The writer and academic – who also goes by the pen name Yang Hengjun – has previously told supporters he was tortured at a secret detention site and fears forced confessions may be used against him.

His closed-door trial was heard in Beijing in mid-2021, with Yang still awaiting the verdict.

Attempts to raise Yang’s situation have irked Chinese officials in the past, who have told Australia to stop meddling in the country’s justice system.

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