Hong Kong police offer rewards for arrest of 8 pro-democracy activists living abroad
Hong Kong — Hong Kong police on Monday charged eight self-exiled democracy activists with violating the region’s tough national security law and offered rewards of 1 million Hong Kong dollars ($127,600) each for information leading to their arrest. in custody The US and Britain strongly condemned the move.
The awards are the first to be suspected of violating the legislation imposed in Beijing since it came into effect in June 2020. It prohibits subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorism.
The eight activists are former pro-democracy lawmakers Nathan Law, Ted Hui and Dennis Kwok, lawyer Kevin Yam, unionist Mung Siu-tat and activists Finn Lau, Anna Kwok and Elmer Yuen, police announced at a press conference.
They are currently living in the US, Great Britain, Canada and Australia after some were charged with various other crimes earlier.
Steven Li, director general of the police’s National Security Department, said arrest warrants had been issued for the eight under the National Security Law. He admitted that the police will not be able to arrest them if they remain abroad but urged them to return to Hong Kong and surrender to reduce their sentences.
Li said the new charges and awards are not intended to spread fear but are simply “enforcing the law.” “
He cited articles of the security law that say the police have extraterritorial jurisdiction, and said they would go after people overseas who threaten Hong Kong’s national security.
The press conference came less than two weeks after the state-owned newspaper Ta Kung Pao issued an editorial saying the National Security Law applies to people in outside Hong Kong, and that China, as a member of Interpol, could request assistance from other countries in Hong Kong. arresting fugitives.
Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous Chinese city, has come under intense scrutiny by Beijing after months of political strife in 2019. Authorities have cleared dissent of more than 260 people, giving including many pro-democracy figures, who were arrested under the National Security Law.
Hong Kong’s political system has also undergone a major overhaul to ensure that only “patriots” loyal to Beijing can hold office.
Police said they have evidence that the eight violated the national security law.
According to the warrants, lawyer Yam, former lawmaker Dennis Kwok and activists Yuen, Lau and Anna Kwok are accused of foreign conspiracy for allegedly seek sanctions against Hong Kong officials.
Former lawmaker Hui has been accused of inciting secession, subversion and foreign collusion for saying he wants Hong Kong and Taiwan independence on social media, which as well as sanctions against city officials.
Law, who currently lives in Britain, is also charged with foreign conspiracy and separatism for allegedly calling for sanctions and the city’s separation from China. in meetings with foreign officials and in open letters, petitions, social media posts and media interviews.
The Mung Union is accused of inciting separatism for claiming that it advocates Hong Kong’s separation from the mainland.
Law said the new charges are an attempt to suppress dissenting voices.
“I ask Hongkongers not to cooperate with any hunting or bounty related activities. We should not limit ourselves, self-censor, be afraid or live in fear,” he tweeted.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the UK “will not accept any attempts by China to intimidate and silence individuals in the UK and abroad.”
“We call on Beijing to remove the National Security Law and on the Hong Kong authorities to end their targeting of those who stand for freedom and democracy,” Cleverly said in a statement.
The US condemned the move and said it was a dangerous precedent for extraterritorial enforcement that threatened human rights.
“We call on the Hong Kong government to immediately withdraw this bounty, respect the sovereignty of other countries, and stop the international application of the National Security Law imposed by Beijing,” said Matthew Miller , a spokesperson for the US State Department.