Hong Kong police issue new cash bounties for self-exiled activists, including a US citizen

Chief Superintendent of Police (National Security Department ) Li Kwai-wah and Senior Superintendent Hung Ngan attend a press conference to issue arrest warrants for five activists Simon Cheng, Frances Hui, Joey Siu, Johnny Fok and Tony Choi, in Hong Kong, China December 14, 2023.

Hong Kong Police’s national security department unveils bounties for five activists Simon Cheng, Frances Hui, Joey Siu, Johnny Fok and Tony Choi, in Hong Kong on December 14, 2023.Tyrone Siu/ReutersHong KongCNN — 

Hong Kong police on Thursday placed HK$1 million ($128,000) bounties on five more democracy activists living in self-imposed exile in a move condemned by the United States and United Kingdom.

Police accuse the five – including US citizen Joey Siu and Frances Hui, who has been granted asylum in the United States – of committing crimes endangering national security.

The other three wanted activists – Johnny Fok, Tony Choi and Simon Cheng – live in Britain.

Hong Kong police in July posted similar cash bounties for eight other self-exiled activists, who have continued to speak out against what they say is Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy following its enactment of a sweeping national security law in 2020 in response to mass pro-democracy protests in the city.

All of those wanted now live in the US, Canada, Britain and Australia, which have suspended their extradition treaties with Hong Kong due to concerns over the law.

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Steve Li, chief superintendent of the Hong Kong police national security department, told a news conference Thursday that the activists had called for Hong Kong independence and demanded international sanctions against Hong Kong and mainland Chinese officials.

“They have betrayed Hong Kong. They have betrayed their country,” he claimed. “[They have] ignored the interest of the Hong Kong people. And they continue to engage in acts endangering national security even though they have fled overseas.”

But the activists vowed to continue speaking out.

“I will never be silenced, I will never back down,” said Siu, the US citizen, on X, formerly Twitter.

Hui was also defiant. “Let me reiterate that my advocacy for democracy and freedom has not and will not stop,” she wrote on X.

Meanwhile, UK-based Cheng called the charges a badge of “lifelong honor,” in a post on X.

The new bounties also drew rebukes from Washington and London.

US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said Washington strongly condemns “the egregious actions taken by Hong Kong authorities” and that the move “shows blatant disregard for international norms for democracy and human rights.”

“We deplore any attempt to apply the Beijing-imposed national security law extraterritorially and reiterate that Hong Kong authorities have no jurisdiction within United States borders, where the advocates for democracy and freedom will continue to enjoy their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and rights,” he said.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said he had told British officials to raise the issue “as a matter of urgency” with the Hong Kong and Chinese authorities.

“We will not tolerate any attempt by any foreign power to intimidate, harass or harm individuals or communities in the UK. This is a threat to our democracy and fundamental human rights,” he said, calling for the national security law to be repealed.

Critics of Hong Kong’s national security law – which criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign powers and carries a maximum punishment of life imprisonment – say it has been used to crush the city’s opposition movement, overhaul its electoral system, silence its outspoken media and cripple its once-vibrant civil society.

But the Hong Kong https://bolalampupetak.com government has repeatedly rejected such criticisms and said the law helped the city “restore stability” following the protests.

The Hong Kong government “must fight head-on to fulfil its constitutional duty in safeguarding national security and uphold the principle of ‘one country, two systems’ and the spirit of the rule of law,” a spokesperson said Thursday.

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