Hong Kong cancels passports of six 'lawless' democracy activists

AFP || Shining BD

Published: 6/12/2024 5:01:58 AM

The Hong Kong government said Wednesday it has cancelled the passports of six democracy activists who fled to the United Kingdom, calling them "lawless wanted criminals".

Hong Kong last year issued HK$1 million ($128,000) bounties for 13 activists based abroad who authorities accused of committing national security crimes.

The six named Wednesday -- all on the bounty list -- are considered "lawless wanted criminals... hiding in the United Kingdom", a government spokesperson said in a statement.

"They continue to blatantly engage in activities that endanger national security... We therefore have taken such measure to give them a strong blow," the spokesperson added, listing "cancellation of HKSAR passports" as one of the measures.

The six are former pro-democracy lawmaker Nathan Law, veteran unionist Mung Siu-tat, and activists Simon Cheng, Finn Lau, Fok Ka-chi and Choi Ming-da.

Hong Kong officials cited a national security law passed in March as the legal basis for cancelling their passports.

Police added that anyone offering funds, leasing property or running a business with those named could face up to seven years in jail.

The move came on the fifth anniversary of a violent clash between protesters and police that marked a major escalation in the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests of 2019.

The most recent batch of bounties, issued in December, were condemned at the time by the United States and Britain, with London calling them "a threat to our democracy and fundamental human rights".

City leader John Lee -- who has been sanctioned by the United States for his role as security chief in 2019 -- has said the wanted activists would be "pursued for life" and called on them to surrender.

Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong in 2020 following the huge and at times violent protests.

The law -- which has reshaped Hong Kong society and broken down the legal firewall that once existed between the city and mainland China -- claims the power to hold accused people accountable across the world.

The six people named Wednesday have been accused of national security crimes including incitement to secession, incitement to subversion and foreign collusion -- offences that could land them in prison for life.

A new homegrown national security law, passed in March, granted Hong Kong authorities further enforcement powers, including the cancelling of passports.

Shining BD