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Hong Kong Puts Arrest Bounties on Five Overseas Activists Including US Citizen

Hong Kong police have offered million-dollar bounties for information leading to the arrest of five overseas-based activists, as part of a crackdown on dissent under a China-imposed national security law.

The move, which adds to a list of eight overseas activists deemed fugitives by authorities in July, triggered criticism from the US and UK governments.

The five are Simon Cheng, Frances Hui, Joey Siu, Johnny Fok and Tony Choi, who are now based in various countries including the US and UK.

Steve Li, an officer with the Hong Kong police’s national security department, said: “All of them who have already fled overseas have continued to commit offences under the national security law that seriously endangered national security.”

The five are accused of various offences under the security law, including incitement to secession and subversion, as well as collusion with foreign countries or external forces.

Police issued wanted notices and rewards of HK$1m (£100,000) for each of the five.

Beijing imposed the national security law on Hong Kong in 2020 after months of anti-government protests. The law punishes acts including subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorism with up to life in prison.

Siu, an activist based in Washington and a US citizen, said this was the first time an American citizen had been placed under such a warrant, and it “demonstrated the extraterritorial reach of the national security law and the chilling effect that follows”.

She said: “I think democratic countries, especially the US, need to take a lead on addressing such transnational repression harassment tactics against activists like me.”

Another activist shrugged off the move. Simon Cheng, who is now based in Britain, posted on X: “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 US state department said it strongly condemned the Hong Kong authorities’ actions and its “bounty list” targeting democracy activists overseas.

“That shows blatant disregard for international norms, for democracy and human rights,” the state department spokesperson Matthew Miller said at a regular news briefing on Thursday. “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.”

The UK foreign secretary, David Cameron, said he had instructed officials in Hong Kong, Beijing and London 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,” Cameron said in a statement released by his office.

Hong Kong police also said they had arrested two men and two women aged between 29 and 68 for allegedly providing financial assistance to two wanted activists, Nathan Law and Ted Hui, via an online crowdfunding platform.

These were the first such arrests on financial assistance grounds under the security legislation. The offence carries a maximum jail term of 10 years.

Li said: “We paid particular attention to the essence of the wanted persons, and tried to break their chain of financing by all means.”

Another prominent activist, Agnes Chow, jumped bail and fled Hong Kong this month after what she called sustained pressure from authorities that had damaged her mental and physical health. Chow said she was forced to travel to the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen where she was taken under police guard to a patriotic exhibition on China’s achievements, before authorities allowed her to travel to Canada for studies.

Source : The Guardian