Hong Kong cancels passports of six pro-democracy activists in exile in UK

The six, including former legislator Nathan Law, are also banned from any business dealings and financial transactions.

Nathan Law sitting on a bench in a London park. He looks relaxed. The park is green and leafy.
Former Hong Kong legislator and pro-democracy activist Nathan Law poses for a photograph in London, August 18, 2023 [Henry Nicholls/ AFP]

Hong Kong has cancelled the passports of six pro-democracy activists who are in exile overseas under its newly-enacted domestic security law, calling them “lawless wanted criminals”.

The government said that in addition to the cancellation of the “absconders'” travel documents, the six were also banned from any business dealings in Hong Kong, including financial transactions from cash to gold.

“These lawless wanted criminals are hiding in the United Kingdom and continue to blatantly engage in activities that endanger national security,” a government spokesman said in a statement on Wednesday.

“They also make scaremongering remarks to smear and slander the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. More so, they continue to collude with external forces to protect their evil deeds. We therefore have taken such measure to give them a strong blow.”

The six men, accused of national security crimes in Hong Kong and wanted by police, include former legislator Nathan Law and British consulate worker Simon Cheng who was detained for 15 days in China in August 2019. The others are activist Finn Lau, labour rights activist Christopher Mung, Fok Ka-chi and Choi Ming-da, according to the statement.

Writing on the social media platform X, Lau said the move was “an explicit act of transnational repression” but it would not stop him from campaigning for what he believed in. He said he had never applied for, or had, a passport for the HKSAR, Hong Kong’s official name.

“The act of repression does not deter me from advocating for human rights & democracy,” he wrote. “The fighting spirit of Hongkongers, including mine, remains.”

On Facebook, Law said he not had a HKSAR passport since he was granted asylum in the UK in the 2021 and the Hong Kong government’s decision was “unnecessary”.

The government statement also warned people in Hong Kong that providing any kind of financial assistance to the six, or having business dealings with them, was an offence with a potential seven-year jail term.

“Please give top priority to your personal safety,” Law cautioned the people of Hong Kong in his post.

The territory’s legislature passed the security law, known as Article 23, in March, adding to a national security legislation imposed by Beijing in July 2020 in the wake of mass protests which sometimes turned violent.

Hong Kong and Beijing say the laws have helped bring stability to the territory. Critics say they have decimated Hong Kong’s freedoms.

Hong Kong police have offered to pay as much as 1 million Hong Kong dollars ($128,000) to anyone providing information leading to the arrest of 13 pro-democracy activists currently living overseas, including the six men whose passports have been cancelled.

Source: Al Jazeera