SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Australian writer detained in Beijing and facing trial for espionage is a former Chinese spy, according to a confidential letter he wrote in 2011.
Following are key points in the history of Yang Hengjun’s work and the case against him.
1987: Yang works in Hainan province national security office, two years after graduating from university in Shanghai. Hainan is near the strategic South China Sea. He later moves to the Ministry of State Security, according to his letter.
1992: Yang wrote that he worked for MSS in Hong Kong under the cover of a travel service.
1997: Yang wrote that he worked for MSS in Washington under the cover of a researcher.
1999: Yang leaves the MSS and migrates to Australia with his family, according to his friend, Sydney-based liberal scholar Feng Chongyi.
2000-2004: Yang writes three spy novels about a double agent, which are published in Taiwan.
2002: Yang becomes an Australian citizen
2005-2006: Completes a PhD at the University of Technology, Sydney, about emerging liberal voices in China blogging about democracy. Yang starts his own blog and gains a large following.
2011: Detained in Guangzhou by police on suspicion of instigating the Jasmine Revolution. Yang is released after three days.
2012: Yang returns to Hong Kong to work for the Tianda Institute, a think-tank funded by an Australian Chinese businessman.
2017: Yang works as a visiting scholar at Columbia University in New York, earning income as a “daigou” or online sales agent selling products.
2019: Yang is arrested in January entering China at Guangzhou airport with his wife and her child.
September 2020: Yang’s Beijing lawyers granted first access to him in detention.
October 2020: Yang is charged with espionage. Beijing’s Second Intermediate People’s Court accepts case and appoints a judge.
Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Editing by Lincoln Feast
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