Yang Hengjun: An Australian blogger decides not to appeal his death sentence in China

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A Chinese-born Australian Democratic blogger will not appeal He received a suspended death sentence It was imposed by a Beijing court, with his family saying on Wednesday that a legal challenge would harm his well-being.

Yang Hengjun was convicted of espionage after a closed trial and two weeks ago was sentenced to death, suspended for two years. These sentences are often commuted to life imprisonment after two years.

A statement from Yang's family and close friends said they strongly supported the 58-year-old's decision to waive his right to appeal.

“There are two practical reasons why the appeal would be detrimental to Yang’s well-being,” the statement said.

First, she said there were no reasons to believe the justice system would handle his “unjust” punishment. Secondly, the statement added, the appeal would only delay Yang's ability to receive adequate medical care after five years of “inhumane” and “neglectful” treatment in custody.

Yang's supporters are urging Australia to pressure China to release him from prison on conditional medical release or transfer him to Australia.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Australia objected to Yang's sentence and would continue to demand his release.

He added: “We will continue to make representations to China… in his favor.” “The Australian government will always stand up for the rights of Australian citizens,” Albanese told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said the courts “handled the case in accordance with the law and will continue to protect all the legitimate rights and interests of the person concerned.”

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Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said her government respected Yang's “difficult decision” to waive his appeal rights and would do so. Continue to defend him At every opportunity and at the highest levels.

“I acknowledge the strength shown by Dr. Yang's family and friends during this time,” Wong said.

“All Australians want to see Dr Yang reunited with his loved ones,” Wong added.

Yang, a former Chinese diplomat and state security agent turned political commentator and writer of spy novels in Australia, was arrested in January 2019 upon arriving in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou on a flight from New York with his wife and teenage stepdaughter.

He was tried in Beijing in May 2021. Details of his case have not been revealed. Yang, who became an Australian citizen in 2002, has denied working as a spy for Australia or the United States.

In a letter to his children in August last year, Yang said he had not been exposed to direct sunlight for more than four years. He told his family He feared he would die in detention After he was diagnosed with a kidney cyst, prompting his supporters to demand his release to receive medical treatment.

In October of last year, Australian journalist Qing Li has been released After more than three years in detention in China on charges of violating the ban through a television broadcast on a state-run television network.

The plight of Yang and Cheng has often been on the agendas of high-level meetings between the two countries in recent years.

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