A Chinese journalist was detained for meeting a Japanese diplomat at a restaurant in Beijing

In this photo provided by the Dong family, Dong Yuyu poses outside the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on May 17, 2017. (Dong Family via AP) (Uncredited/)

A veteran Chinese journalist who worked for a daily affiliated with the ruler communist party and was awarded a scholarship Harvard University faces espionage charges after being detained during a meeting with a Japanese diplomat at a restaurant, his family said Monday.

Dong Yuyudeputy director of the editorial department of the Guangming Daily, regularly met with foreign reporters and diplomats to learn about global trends. But the Chinese authorities considered his contacts with these officials as evidence of espionage, his family said in a statement.

Dong is the latest in a series of liberal voices accused of Beijing of being linked to what the government considers foreign interference.

Outside the Party, he was one of the staunchest supporters of reforms in the Guangming Daily and wrote articles in favor of an independent judicial system, his family said. she received a scholarship nieman in the Harvard University for the 2006-2007 academic year and was a visiting professor at the Keio Universityin Japanin 2010. Four years later, he held a similar position at the University of hokkaidoalso in Japan.

But his writings caused him problems in China. In 2017, an investigation by Party officials determined that some of his writings were “anti-socialist” and Dong he was threatened with being demoted, his family said.

He was detained in February 2022 while having lunch with a Japanese diplomat at a hotel restaurant in Beijing where he used to meet his foreign friends, the statement added. The diplomat was also arrested, prompting a vigorous protest from the country’s Foreign Ministry. Although the official was released hours later, Dong remains retained.

His family was told last month that he would be tried, but the date is not yet clear, the note said.

In Chinaespionage is punishable by sentences of more than 10 years in prison.

Asked by reporters, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said on Tuesday that she did not know the specific details of Dong’s case. The ministry did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.