US, UK have condemned Hong Kong authorities for putting a bounty on several self-exiled activists

Hong Kong. Photo Courtesy: Simon Cheng X page

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IBNS:The US and the UK have condemned Hong Kong authorities for putting a bounty on several self-exiled activists.

According to reports, Hong Kong authorities said all five individuals, who now live abroad, would be pursued “till the end” as they offered HK$1,000,000 ($128,000) bounties for help catching them.

After Beijing imposed a national security law in 2020, all five people fled the city.

“The National Security Department (NSD) of the Hong Kong Police Force today (December 14) said that Police have put five persons who have absconded overseas and are suspected to have committed offences under the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (National Security Law) on wanted list,” Hong Kong Police said in a statement

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken rejected Hong Kong’s attempt to threaten and harass those advocating for freedom and democracy.

“The United States denounces Hong Kong authorities’ announcement of a new bounty list targeting overseas democracy advocates, including a U.S. citizen. We reject this attempt to threaten and harass those advocating for freedom and democracy,” he posted on X.

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller condemned the move and said in a statement: “We strongly condemn the egregious actions taken by Hong Kong authorities in announcing national security law changes and a new bounty list targeting democracy advocates overseas.”

“That shows blatant disregard for international norms, for democracy and human rights,” he said.

Miller said: “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.”

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said: “The Hong Kong police have again targeted individuals for exercising their right to freedom of expression.”

“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.

One of the wanted activists Simon Cheng, who currently stays in the UK, posted on X: ” Being hunted by China (Hong Kong)’s secret police, under a one-million-dollar bounty, is a lifelong honour. If the government deems the quest for democracy and freedom a crime, we embrace the charges to reveal the genuine face of social justice, unyielding to authority.”

The Hong Kong Police said its officials arrested two men and two women, aged between 29 and 68, in various districts in Hong Kong who were suspected of committing the offence of “providing pecuniary assistance for the commission of secession by other persons” under the National Security Law.

Investigations revealed that between December 2020 and November 2023, the four arrested persons were suspected of providing pecuniary assistance via online crowdfunding platform to two wanted persons, who have engaged in secessionist activities and absconded overseas, and the amount involved ranged from some $10,000 to $120,000. The four arrested persons are being detained for further enquiries.