China rejects calls for release of scholar held for alleged spying

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Yuan Keqin, a former professor at the Hokkaido University of Education in Japan, was detained in May 2019, when he was in China for a temporary return home…reports Asian Lite News

China’s foreign ministry on Wednesday dismissed calls for the release of a Chinese scholar who is being held on suspicion of spying for Japan.

Yuan Keqin, a former professor at the Hokkaido University of Education in Japan, was detained in May 2019, when he was in China for a temporary return home, reported NHK World.

However, Yuan’s family and fellow researchers have claimed that he is innocent and called for his immediate release.

Reacting to this, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters on Wednesday that Yuan is a Chinese citizen but was long involved in spying at the request of Japan’s intelligence agency.

He also claimed Yuan has admitted to committing such a crime and there is hard evidence. Zho also informed that the imprisoned scholar has already been indicted and is currently on trial.

Yuan is one of the many academic detained recently by China under its anti-espionage law, reported NHK World.

The Chinese government initially stayed silent on Yuan’s whereabouts. But in late March, about 10 months after his disappearance, the authorities admitted officially that they had detained him.

China’s current anti-espionage law came into effect in 2014 as President Xi Jinping’s leadership began increasing censorship, which can amount to the death penalty if the law deems anyone harming national security.

A report on human rights issued by the US State Department in March claims that Chinese authorities have arbitrarily detained citizens and foreigners, citing national security, and argues that the scope of the law is broad and ambiguous.

Meanwhile, the Japanese government says 15 of its nationals have been detained in the past five years, reported NHK World. (ANI)]

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