A Chinese state media journalist formerly based in Australia has spoken about the disruption caused to his work and family life after his home was raided in June as part of a federal investigation into alleged foreign interference.
“It was about 6.30am on June 26,” Yang Jingzhong said in an article for state news agency Xinhua, whose bureau in Sydney he used to head.
“I heard heavy knocks on my door when I was still asleep … Officers produced a warrant and asked to search my apartment over so-called potential violations of Australian foreign interference laws.”
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Yang said more than 10 police and intelligence officers searched his flat for seven hours, and confiscated several electronic devices and documents.
“As soon as they entered, they took my phone from me and asked me not to touch any of my electronic and work equipment.”
He said it was never clearly explained to him why he was targeted.
Yang returned to China in late August after two months of disruption to his life and work.
“I was shocked, but I quickly calmed down because I knew I had not violated any laws,” he said. “But my daughter had never experienced such a scene and was very frightened.”
The account of Yang’s experiences, which was published on Tuesday, comes amid high tensions between Beijing and Canberra over the treatment of each other’s journalists.
The Australian Federal Police declined to speak about the issue and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation said it did not comment on intelligence matters.
Yang’s story was first reported by Chinese tabloid Global Times on September 8, the same day two Australian correspondents were evacuated from China after being questioned by police.
The foreign ministry in Beijing said on September 9 that four Chinese journalists from state-run organisations – Xinhua, China Media Group and China News Service – had been interrogated by Australian authorities in late June.
The reporters’ homes were searched in connection with the investigation into violations of Australian foreign interference laws, and their work computers, phones and other devices were seized, it said, adding that all four had since returned to China.
The home and office of New South Wales legislator Shaoquett Moselmane were also raided on the same day. Moselmane said later he was not a suspect in a police investigation into unnamed people advancing China’s goals in Australia.
The spat between the two countries escalated with the detention of Australian journalist Cheng Lei on national security grounds on August 14.
More from South China Morning Post:
- China accuses Australia of ‘barbaric’ searches of journalists’ homes over foreign interference laws
- Friction over journalists hastens the unravelling of strained China-Australia ties
- China says Australian journalist Cheng Lei detained on national security grounds
- Chinese state media lash out at Australia over raids on Chinese journalists
This article Chinese journalist tells of upset caused when Australian intelligence agents raided his home first appeared on South China Morning Post