The International Federation of Journalists is calling for the release of an Australian-Chinese writer who has been detained in China, as a Labor MP urged the government to issue a travel warning for the country.
Yang Hengjun has been charged with espionage for “endangering China’s national security” and engaging in “criminal activities”.
The International Federation of Journalists said Dr Yang’s arrest shows “the ongoing attempts by the Chinese government to control the flow of information and free speech even beyond its borders”.
“The fact that Yang, an Australian citizen is not safe to travel to China without detention is a warning for other critical voices. We strongly criticise this approach by the Chinese Government and call for the immediate release of Yang Hengjun,” the federation said in a statement.
Dr Yang, 53, had been living in New York as a visiting scholar at Columbia University with his wife and her child and had returned to China last week.
He had left New York on January 18 for Guangzhou, where he was prevented from boarding his connecting flight to Shanghai with his wife and daughter.
Federal Labor MP Michael Danby said on Friday Australia should announce a travel warning for China, matching a similar rise in caution in the US.
“What happens if you’re like me, you’ve been critical of China? Can I fly there? Will they pull you off a plane?” Mr Danby told AAP on Friday.
“What about the members and staff of (ABC show) Four Corners? Are they in jeopardy?”
Dr Yang, 53, has been an Australian citizen since 2002. He is known as an activist advocating for democracy and rule of law.
He had been living in New York as a visiting scholar at Columbia University, before leaving on January 18 for Guangzhou.
He was prevented from boarding his connecting flight to Shanghai with his wife and daughter, and is said to be under “residential surveillance”, which is similar to home detention.
Consulate staff from the Australian embassy in Beijing visited Dr Yang on Friday afternoon, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement.