“It appears that Chinese officials are now attempting to close off an important conduit of information from Dr Yang to the outside world, and vice versa,” Mr Stary said.
“Chinese security officials have already blocked all written messages, letters, books and documents from being passed to Dr Yang. Not a single letter of support has been passed on, including multiple letters each month from his immediate family.
“There is a plain attempt to have Dr Yang subjected to interrogation in complete isolation, cut off entirely from his loved ones and supporters.”
Foreign Minister Marise Payne has pressed the Chinese government to ensure “basic standards of justice” for the Australian writer, given he has not seen his lawyers during months of detention.
“We do believe that providing Dr Yang with access to a lawyer is an extremely important request, both from him and from Australia,” Senator Payne said in September.
“It is appropriate in terms of the basic standards of justice and procedural fairness that he be provided with access to his lawyer.”
When Senator Payne in August criticised the “harsh” treatment of Dr Yang, Chinese foreign affairs spokesman Geng Shuang accused her of “interference” in Chinese affairs.
When Australian consular officials visited Dr Yang in Beijing in August, they learned he was in a cell with three others, with the light on at all times, had a bed and could wash every day and had access to a small outside area for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon.
Prior to being placed in criminal detention on July 17, he had been in “residential surveillance” and solitary confinement since January.
Mr Stary’s law firm, Stary Norton Halphen, says in a statement to be issued on Monday that the Australian government has been told by Chinese officials that all verbal messages from Dr Yang’s immediate family, as well as his wider support group, are to be blocked.
Stary Norton Halphen lawyer Sarah Condon said Dr Yang’s health appeared to be in significant decline and that there were serious problems with his kidney functions.
David Crowe is chief political correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.