Doorstop - Tamarama, NSW

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: Dr Yang Hengjun.

JOURNALIST: There’s reports he’s facing daily interrogations and that he is being exposed to light 24 hours a day. Is that what you know and are you concerned about those claims?

MARISE PAYNE: I made clear in both my statement yesterday and then in some remarks I made later in the day that we are seeking for Dr Yang to be released in the first instance, particularly if he is only being held for his political beliefs. But most importantly, that if he is to be detained, that he is detained in accordance with the expectations accorded to him through conventions and international law and they include access to lawyers, they include appropriate conditions of detention. So all those matters which are raised by his lawyers are ones which they are pursuing and which we would also indicate are conditions which are unacceptable and need to be addressed.

JOURNALIST: Could this be a case of hostage diplomacy like what we saw with the two Canadians after Canada acted on Huawei?

MARISE PAYNE: We’ve no reason to think it’s connected to other issues. Of course Dr Yang has been detained now for seven months. In the initial investigative period, the indication that there will now be a laying of charges progresses the matter, but it is one which we regard - as I said - as deeply concerning and we are very focused on Dr Yang's position and endeavouring to seek his release.

JOURNALIST: The Chinese Government has told Australia not to interfere in its domestic processes. Do you believe he’s being afforded due process? And what’s your response to that?

MARISE PAYNE: Well I do think it is extremely important and we have been at pains to say that he should be afforded access to his lawyers, that he should be afforded the opportunity to communicate with his family. They are reasonably basic entitlements and we would seek to prosecute that case.

JOURNALIST: You mentioned in your statement harsh conditions, you mentioned quite pointedly international human rights law. Do you see the consular reports from the visits he receives? Have you seen any indication in what you’ve seen that he’s being maltreated or that he’s experienced torture?

MARISE PAYNE: We want to make it very clear that under no circumstances should an Australian citizen be exposed to any treatment of that sort. I think it is important to have laid that out clearly for the Australian community and for Dr Yang and for his family. Our post is communicating to advocate with Chinese authorities to ensure that he is detained in a manner which is in accord with international obligations.

JOURNALIST: Officials were due to visit him yesterday. Do you have any updates or reports back, have you heard anything further on that?

MARISE PAYNE: I understand that visit was made and I’m awaiting an update on that.

JOURNALIST: Are you expecting to change the travel advice to China to warn of a possibility of arbitrary detention?

MARISE PAYNE: Well we have - if you’ve seen recently – we have made some changes to the travel advice and the one thing I encourage all travellers to China to do is to check our travel advice regularly through Smart Traveller. Thank you all very much.

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