Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has rejected allegations that Australian-Chinese writer and academic Yang Hengjun, charged with espionage by China, had acted as a spy for Australia.

“We’ll stand up for our citizen and we’ll expect him to be treated appropriately and his human rights to be respected. There’s their own justice process that they’ll follow in China and that’s appropriate. But these suggestions that he’s acted as a spy for Australia are absolutely untrue and we’ll be protecting and seeking to support our citizen, as we have been doing now for some period of time. We make no apologies for standing up for one of our citizens,” Morrison said in an interview with the Nine News broadcaster, as quoted by the Australian government.

When asked if he was concerned about the fact that Yang had no access to his lawyers or family in detention in China, the prime minister said these concerns had already been voiced several times by the Australian Foreign Ministry.

Morrison added that Australia respected China’s justice system and sovereignty but expected the rights of Australian nationals to be “appropriately looked after.”

Earlier this week, Yang’s lawyer Rob Stary said China officially charged the writer with espionage. Under China’s law, Yang may face death penalty under the charges.

Yang has been detained since January.

China’s Foreign Ministry has called on Australia not to interfere in his case.

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