Wandering China

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Australian ‘spy’ jailed by China [The Age]

Australian ‘spy’ jailed by China
Anne Davies
Source – The Age, published February 1, 2011

AN AUSTRALIAN citizen, James Sun, has spent the past five years in prison in China, with two years on death row, after being convicted of being a spy for Taiwan. He is now serving a life sentence in Beijing Prison No.2, living in harsh conditions.

Yet Mr Sun’s case has never come to light, even though the Australian government has known about it since 2006.

Now his partner, who was four months pregnant at the time of his arrest, has become so desperate that she is prepared to go public.

In January 2006, Mr Sun, who worked for an agency recruiting foreign students to Australia, took a trip home to see his mother. As he headed out to dinner with friends – some of whom he knew from his days in the Chinese Air Force – he was seized by security police.

Six days later, after being alerted by Mr Sun’s family that he was missing, the Australian embassy found Mr Sun in a detention centre run by the State Security Bureau.

He was accused of ”seducing” a former colleague still in the air force, Yang Delong, into copying more than 1000 top-secret and classified documents and of passing them to the Taiwanese.

Embassy officials were unable to attend the trial, despite high-level official representations, because it involved national security and Mr Sun turned down his court-approved lawyer. By then he had spent 22 months in detention. Embassy officials were permitted to attend the verdict hearing in September 2007. Since then consular officials have made regular visits to the prison.

Since 2007, when Australia signed a treaty for the repatriation of prisoners with China, Mrs Sun has held out hope, however slim, that her husband can be brought back to Australia to serve out his sentence and see his son regularly.

But four years later, the government has not passed the enabling legislation. Despite a campaign of letters Mrs Sun has repeatedly been told there is no time frame for enacting it. China has already taken the steps needed to enact the treaty.

Mrs Sun knows the treaty is the first step. It will still be up to the Chinese authorities to decide whether they will release a convicted spy.

The statement of facts from the verdict hearing reveals the main evidence against Mr Sun was his alleged confession, and that of his co-accused, Yang.

If the Chinese judgment is accepted, the case reveals that Taiwan is actively recruiting agents within the Australian-Chinese community. The case also points to the possibility that China is watching Australian citizens in Australia as well.

But Mrs Sun insisted her husband was not a spy. She said his confession was concocted: ”He’s just a normal person. He’s never been to Taiwan and doesn’t know anyone from Taiwan.” Her only explanation for Mr Sun being targeted is that he used to work for the air force.

Mrs Sun has sent many letters to politicians on behalf of her husband. Some, such as former foreign minister Stephen Smith and former prime minister Kevin Rudd, have answered her. Others, such as Prime Minister Julia Gillard, have not.

Last week the Attorney-General’s Department said: ”The government undertakes the processes necessary to implement treaties as quickly as possible … There is no formal timetable for progressing treaty implementation.”

Mrs Sun noted the publicity around other cases, such as the Bali nine. ”The government applies pressure over people who are convicted of bribes, drug trafficking and even murder. Why can’t they help James?”

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said: ”The embassy in Beijing continues to provide the man with every possible level of consular support including monitoring his health and welfare closely through regular visits.”


Filed under: Australia, Back to China, Beijing Consensus, Chinese overseas, Crime, Culture, Human Rights, Influence, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Politics, The Age

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