Hong Kong issues arrest warrants for six overseas democracy activists including US citizen, state media reports
Hong Kong police have issued arrest warrants for six overseas-based democracy activists who are alleged to have breached the citys newly imposed national security law, according to Chinese state media.
The six include United States citizen and resident Samuel Chu and Nathan Law, a former Hong Kong lawmaker and prominent pro-democracy campaigner who fled the city and is now living in London, according to the report.
The issuing of the warrant appears to mark the first time that authorities have used the new national security law, imposed by Beijing on June 30, to target activists based outside of the city.
The law criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference, and it applies to offenses committed "outside the region" by foreigners who are not residents of Hong Kong or China.
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported that the six are wanted on suspicion of inciting secession and colluding with foreign countries, but did not give any further details. In response to a CNN request for comment, a Hong Kong Police spokesperson said the "police do not comment on media reports"
US national Chu, who is the managing director of the Hong Kong Democracy Council, a Washington DC-based advocacy group promoting freedom and autonomy for Hong Kong, appears to be the first non Hong Kong citizen to be targeted under the new security law.
In a twitter post Friday, Chu said in ordering his arrest, China was effectively targeting a US citizen for lobbying his own government. "I might be the 1st non-Chinese citizen to be targeted, but I will not be the last. If I am targeted, any American/any citizen of any nation who speaks out for HK can-and will be-too, said Chu. "We are all Hong Kongers now," he added.
According to Chus biography, he has lived in the US as an American citizen for 25 years. In a statement posted online, the United States China Commission, a congressional-executive body that monitors human rights and the rule of law in China, called on the Hong Kong government to repudiate the warrant and for the United Nations to begin urgent talks on the national security law and the deteriorating human rights conditions in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong government has defended the law as necessary to protect national security, and promised that it would only affect a tiny number of people.
"The national security law is a crucial step to ending chaos and violence that has occurred over the past few months," Carrie Lam, the citys chief executive, said in July. "Its a law that has been introduced to keep Hong Kong safe. The legislation is lawful, constitutional and reasonable."
The announcement of the arrest warrants comes after Hong Kong disqualified 12 pro-democracy candidates from standing in now postponed legislative elections, including pro-democray leader Joshua Wong.
On Friday the Hong Kong government announced the poll, that was set to take place in September, would be delayed for one year citing concerns over the citys continuing coronavirus outbreak. However, activists have claimed the government is using the pandemic as an excuse to postpone the election to avoid a potential loss.
In recent weeks, several countries have suspended their extradition treaties with Hong Kong, including the United Kingdom and Australia. On Friday, Germany joined that list following the citys decision to postpone elections, according to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
Law, the former lawmaker and democracy activist who was a leader of the 2014 Umbrella Movement, said on his Facebook page, "I have no idea what is my crime and I dont think thats even important. These are trumped-up charges. Perhaps, in the end, the answer is that I love Hong Kong too much."