Australian writer detained in China on spying charges set for May trial

The Australian flag flutters in front of the Great Hall of the People during a welcoming ceremony for Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (not in picture) in Beijing, China

An Australian writer detained in Beijing on spying allegations will go to court on May 27 after a delay in his trial, his supporters said.

Pro-democracy blogger Yang Hengjun, who is facing trial on espionage charges that he denies, has been unable to receive visits from his wife or family since he was arrested in January 2019 after he arrived at Guangzhou airport from New York.

His former teacher, Feng Chongyi, who is in Sydney, said Chinese authorities had informed the Australian embassy that a court date is set for May 27.

“It will be a closed-door trial,” Feng told Reuters.

Australia’s department of foreign affairs and trade in Canberra did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Yang’s trial, which had been due to proceed by January, has been delayed by four months.

The 55-year-old pro-democracy blogger faces a lengthy jail sentence after Chinese authorities charged him with endangering national security by joining or accepting a mission from an unidentified espionage organisation.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously said it was “absolutely untrue” Yang had acted as a spy for Australia.

Was it worth reading? Let us know.