Published: Tue, December 29, 2020
Science | By

Hong Kongers charged in China plead guilty, relatives told

Hong Kongers charged in China plead guilty, relatives told

Last Sunday, China's state TV CGTN reported that Hong Kong police had put 30 people who are not now in Hong Kong on its wanted list for suspicion of breaching the national security law, including self-exiled activists Ted Hui and Baggio Leung.

Twelve pro-democracy activists were detained by China's coast guard in August as they tried to enter Taiwan by boat.

The court statement was quickly rejected by the 12 detainees' families in Hong Kong.

Prominent activists remain in Hong Kong have either been - jailed like Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow - or face frequent arrests and multiple charges.

A few deputies of the National People's Congress and members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference from HKSAR and Shenzhen as well as journalists and relatives of the defendants attended the trial, said the embassy.

A Reuters reporter was not allowed into the court, nor were diplomats. It was not clear if the plaintiffs made a plea.

While serving his sentence, Mr Chung will be waiting for trial over a charge of "secession", which could land him life imprisonment according to the draconian national security law Beijing imposed on Hong Kong on 30 June. "They must also ensure that none of the 12 are subjected to torture or other ill treatment".

Lee Cheuk-yan, chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, slammed the trial.

They were only notified of the trial date on Friday, while their lawyers have been barred from meeting with the detainees. "They don't even know the names of the government-appointed lawyers", he said.

"We've been denied entry".

Dominic Raab, the British foreign secretary, has condemned China's "secret" trial of a group of Hongkongers accused of trying to flee the city amid a crackdown on dissent.

The U.S. embassy in China has called upon Chinese authorities to immediately release 12 fugitives from Hong Kong and permit them to depart the country on Monday, according to a statement released on Monday. "Communist China will stop at nothing to prevent its people from seeking freedom elsewhere", the embassy said in a statement.

The law has also toppled the legal firewall between Hong Kong's internationally recognised common law judiciary and the opaque, Party-controlled justice system in mainland China by allowing extradition of suspects across the border for trial.

A spokesman for the US Embassy in China recently called on Beijing to "immediately release" the activists, saying their only crime was "fleeing tyranny".

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with the guarantee of freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland, including freedom of speech.

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