Chinese-Australian writer, Yang Hengium has been formally arrested on espionage charges in China after months of detention.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Australia was “very concerned and disappointed” to learn of the arrest.
The Australian citizen has been held in Beijing since January under “harsh conditions”, she said.
“We have serious concerns for Dr Yang’s welfare and about the conditions under which he is being been held,” she stated.
Mr Yang’s supporters told reporters that the formal arrest, on August 23, was expected but this concerns development in his case.
He had been held without charge for more than seven months, during which Canberra has repeatedly pressed Beijing to release him.
“China has not explained the reasons for Dr Yang’s detention,” Ms Payne said in a strongly worded statement on Tuesday.
“I respectfully reiterate my previous requests that if Dr Yang is being held for his political beliefs, he should be released,” she said.