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PoliticsHong Kong

Hong Kong cancels passports of exiled democracy activists

June 12, 2024

Hong Kong cancels the passports of six democracy activists living in the UK under a controversial security law. Authorities label them as 'lawless wanted criminals.'

Hong Kong activist Nathan Law in London
Former pro-democracy lawmaker Nathan Law was among the six overseas-based activists whose passports were canceledImage: DW

Hong Kong said Wednesday it had canceled the passports UK-based  former pro-democracy lawmaker Nathan Law, veteran unionist Mung Siu-tat and activists Simon Cheng, Finn Lau, Fok Ka-chi and Choi Ming-da.

"These lawless wanted criminals are hiding in the United Kingdom and continue to blatantly engage in activities that endanger national security," a Hong Kong government spokesperson said.

"They also make scaremongering remarks to smear and slander the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region," the official added. 

Police said anyone offering funds, leasing property or running a business with those named could face up to seven years in jail.

Beijing's ever-tightening grip on Hong Kong

Controversial security law in Hong Kong

Hong Kong officials cited a security law passed by the pro-Beijing Legislative Council in March as the legal basis for the move.

The legislation grants the city's authorities increased powers, including canceling passports, to take action against dissenters and anti-government protesters. 

It follows the sweeping national security law Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in 2020 following huge, and at times violent, pro-democracy protests.

The controversial legislation saw Beijing tightening its grip on the semi-autonomous territory.

It has since reshaped Hong Kong society and restricted many of the freedoms previously enjoyed by Hong Kong's 7 million inhabitants.

Hong Kong court convicts 14 pro-democracy activists

Hong Kong's bounty list

Hong Kong issued HK$1 million ($128,000) bounties last year for 13 activists based abroad.

The city's authorities have accused them of committing national security crimes.

The six activists named on Wednesday were all on the bounty list.

The cancellation of passports came on the fifth anniversary of a violent clash between protesters and police that marked a major escalation in the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests of 2019.

Hong Kong leader John Lee has said the wanted activists would be "pursued for life" and called on them to surrender.

Lee has been sanctioned by the United States for his role as security chief in 2019.

sri/rm (AFP, dpa)