Concerns are growing over the health condition of Chinese-Australian writer Yang Hengjun, who was detained in China three years ago on charges of espionage by the Chinese Communist Party in a closed-door trial, as is common under the totalitarian regime.

The 56-year-old Yang Hengjun, who has again pleaded not guilty to the charges against him by the CCP, was arrested at Guangzhou airport in January 2019 while visiting relatives in China and remains in prison in critical condition, according to ABC News.

Supporters say the pro-democracy activist is showing signs of possible kidney failure and are concerned that he may die behind bars in China as he is being denied necessary medical treatments. Yang is also believed to be suffering from severe gout, high uric acid, high blood pressure, vision problems and dizziness.

Yang, a Chinese-born Australian citizen who obtained Australian citizenship in the early 2000s and was living in New York at the time of arrest, was subjected to torture and solitary confinement. He now continues to await a verdict that has been subject to numerous delays.

After a closed hearing in May last year, it was scheduled to be handed down in October, but was delayed until January. It has now been postponed until April 9. 

“According to Chinese law, I’m not guilty. But they treat me like dirt here and they tortured me, I don’t know why,” Yang said.

Australian diplomats have had little access to Yang and authorities in the Western country have repeatedly accused the CCP of arbitrarily detaining the writer and of conducting the prosecution in secret.

Marise Payne, Australia’s foreign minister said, “Neither Dr Yang nor the Australian government have been provided with details as to the charges against him or of the investigation, reinforcing our view that this constitutes the arbitrary detention of an Australian citizen.”

“We therefore call for Dr Yang’s immediate release and his return to Australia,” Payne said.

Yang said in a message to supporters through a friend who visited him in the prison where he is being held that he wants the Chinese regime to open his case and publish it, “To provide details to the world, the Australian government and the country,” he said. 

The writer, a father of two, had spent a decade in Australia pushing for democratic reforms in China and criticizing economic policy and corruption within the Chinese Communist Party.

“I feel no regrets about being arrested,” Yang said according to The Sydney Morning Herald. “The value and ideal of promoting, popularising, and practising law, fairness and justice, social justice, freedom, and democracy are my original aspiration and my Chinese dream.”

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