A Hong Kong democracy activist was accused on Thursday of secularism, the first public politician to be prosecuted under Beijing, the new national security law imposed on the city.
Tony Chung, 19, appeared in court two days later when he was arrested outside the US Consulate at a Hong Kong cafe on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and publishing seditious material . Was imposed
He was remanded in custody until his next hearing on January 7 and could face a life sentence if convicted under the new law.
Chung is a former member of Student Localism, a small group that advocates Hong Kong’s independence from China.
The group said it scrapped its Hong Kong network shortly before, as Beijing covered the city with its new security law in late June, but continued with its international chapters.
The legislation – a reaction to the huge and often violent pro-democracy protests that swept through the city last year – has welcomed new crimes, including the expression of certain political views such as promoting independence or greater autonomy for Hong Kong.
Chung and three other members of student localism were first arrested in July by a newly formed national security police unit on suspicion of promoting segregation through social media posts.
On Thursday, Amnesty International said the allegations suggested officials were legislating to criminalize peaceful political expression.
Josh Rosenzwig, chief amnesty in China, said: “The attack on human rights in Hong Kong has been escalated with politically motivated arrests, accusing a peaceful and fully detained student activist. has been taken.” Team.
The United States also condemned Chung’s arrest.
A State Department spokesperson said, “The use of the Hong Kong Police National Security Unit to detain a minor in a cafe is outrageous.”
Target for the American Consulate?
Speculation has escalated that police have turned on Chung as she hoped to seek asylum at the U.S. consulate in Hong Kong.
A small group calling themselves Friends of Hong Kong issued a statement Tuesday immediately after Chung’s arrest, saying he was attempting to enter the US consulate that day and search the shrine. .
AFP was unable to independently verify the group’s allegations and Chung was unable to comment as he remains in custody.
The conditions of his bail since his first arrest have prevented him from leaving Hong Kong.
Claims for asylum in the United States must be made upon arrival in the country or through the United Nations Refugee Referral Program.
With very few exceptions, consulates and embassies tend not to grant asylum as this could spark a big diplomatic row.
Local media reported this week that four people who had helped Chung tried to enter the US diplomatic mission on Tuesday, but were fired.
The consulate declined to comment.
A growing small town in Hong Kong has left the city since Beijing’s crackdown on democracy protesters, and recent asylum cases have been successful in both Germany and Canada.
China bypassed the Hong Kong legislature to enact new security laws, keeping its contents secret until its introduction.
It targets a wide range of activities perceived as secularism, sabotage, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
He managed to seal mass protests and dissent, with mass arrests and an anti-coronavirus ban on public gatherings.
But the root causes of the massive rallies last year are lacking and the city is still highly polarized.
Critics say the law’s ubiquitous wording struck a blow at the independence of a semi-autonomous city.
The law abolished the legal firewall between Hong Kong and the authoritarian mainland, allowing Chinese security agents to operate openly in the city for the first time.
Beijing said it would have jurisdiction over the most serious crimes for national security.
About two dozen people have been arrested under the new law, including press mogul and staunch critic Jimmy Lye.
So far, only two have been charged – Chung and a man who allegedly drove their motorcycle to a group of police officers during a protest.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV employees and posted from a syndicated feed.)