US and UK condemn Hong Kong for putting bounties on overseas activists

Images of five activists Simon Cheng, Frances Hui, Joey Siu, Johnny Fok, and Tony Choi are displayed during a press conference to issue arrest warrants in Hong Kong, China on December 14, 2023. The city’s authorities said the five wanted individuals, all now living abroad, would be pursued “till the end” as they offered HK$1,000,000 ($128,000) bounties for help catching them. The five fled after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the financial hub in 2020 to quash dissent after massive pro- democracy protests. The bounties are the second batch of hefty rewards offered by Hong Kong police pursuing fugitives accused of national security crimes, and were immediately criticised by Washington and London. The US said it strongly condemned the move, while Britain called it “a threat to our democracy and fundamental human rights “. UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron added he had instructed British officials in Hong Kong, Beijing and London to “raise this issue as a matter of urgency”. US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said “advocates for democracy and freedom will continue to enjoy their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms” in the United States. “We deplore any attempt to apply the Beijing-imposed National Security Law extra-territorially, and reiterate that Hong Kong authorities have no jurisdiction within United States borders,” he added. Hong Kong police Chief Superintendent Steve Li Kwai-wah said the five were suspected of incitement to secession, incitement to subversion, and foreign collusion — crimes that can carry sentences of up to life in prison. “All of them, who have already fled overseas, have continued to commit offences under the national security law that seriously endanger national security,” Li told a news conference. He said they “betrayed their country, betrayed Hong Kong, disregarded the interests of Hong Kong people, and continue to endanger national security […]

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By Donato