Yang Hengjun has been in Chinese custody since January 2019 charged and prosecuted for espionage. Reports indicate he has been tortured and in isolation and barred from visits from Australian government officials. He is in fragile health and his wife has been denied travel privileges out of China. CCS has written the President of China requesting his immediate release due to his charges and lack of evidence and due to the threat of damage from the Covid Virus that is plaguing China and their corrections facilities.
April 28, 2020
His Excellency Xi Jinping
The State Council General Office
Xichengqu, Beijingshi 100017
People’s Republic of China
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We write to express our concern over the treatment of Yang Hengjun. He has been in custody in China since January 2019 and is reportedly at risk of being formally charged with and prosecuted for “espionage,” though evidence has not been presented to support such.
In September 2019, it was reported that Yang Hengjun had 4-hour interrogation session during which he was shackled and threatened with execution. So far in 2020, he has been in total isolation. Australian government officials have been barred from visiting with him since December 2019, ostensibly due to COVID-19 concerns, and he has similarly been denied access to legal representation. Additionally, he is in fragile health.
His wife has been barred from leaving China.
The treatment of Yang Hengjun has been unjust and appears to be based on nothing more than his criticism of the government. Yang Hengjun has the right to freedom of expression, which is protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that your government has signed. He also has the right to a fair trial and the right not to be subjected to torture or other forms of ill-treatment.
We urge you, therefore, to end attempts to prosecute Yang Hengjun, see that he is released immediately and unconditionally, and allow him and his wife to return home.
Thank you for your attention to this most important matter.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander GreerCo-Chairs,
Committee of Concerned Scientists
Ambassador Cui Tiankai
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
3505 International Place, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: (202) 495-2266
Fax: (202)495 -2138
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