Mr. Feng, a friend of Yang Hengjun, said one of his students in Guangzhou was able to phone Mr. Yang on Wednesday. Mr. Yang told the student he was in a hospital but was healthy and had been out of contact because his cellphone ran out of power.

A Chinese—born Australian spy novelist who disappeared in China has been contacted and says he is in a hospital, though a friend claimed on Wednesday he may be in the custody of secret police.

Sydney—based spy novelist and political blogger Yang Hengjun disappeared shortly after phoning his assistant from Guangzhou airport in south-eastern China on Sunday to say three men were reportedly following him, said his friend Feng Chongyi, an associate professor in China Studies at the University of Technology in Sydney.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said on Wednesday that the senior Australian envoy in Guangzhou was “urgently seeking to confirm the man’s whereabouts and well—being.” China’s Foreign Ministry has said it has no information on Mr. Yang.

Mr. Feng said one of his students in Guangzhou was able to phone Mr. Yang on Wednesday. Mr. Yang told the student he was in a hospital but was healthy and had been out of contact because his cellphone ran out of power.

“We have a very bizarre situation now,” Mr. Feng said.

Mr. Feng said he had been unable to contact Mr. Yang from Sydney by phone but had been told by the student of the contact by email. The Associated Press was also unable to contact Mr. Yang by phone on Wednesday.

Mr. Yang, 46, was an official in the Chinese Foreign Ministry before moving to Australia. His novel, “Fatal Weakness,” deals with espionage between China and the United States and has been published on the Internet in China.

He also writes a blog that discusses sensitive issues, criticizing government corruption and wealth gap that have accompanied China’s rapid growth. His writings also have called for democracy, saying the power to make decisions lies with the people.

Mr. Yang spends most of his time in China, although his wife and two children live in their Sydney home, Mr. Feng said.

London—based human rights group Amnesty International on Wednesday demanded that China reveal Mr. Yang’s whereabouts.

“Yang Hengjun’s disappearance is extremely worrying,” Amnesty’s Catherine Baber said in a statement.

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