Hong Kong’s supreme leader announced on Tuesday that eight dissidents who fled the country would be “followed for life” and offered hefty rewards in exchange for information leading to prosecution.
The HK$1 million (approximately $128,000) bounty reflects an intensifying effort to pressure and intimidate influential activists who left Hong Kong after the war. draconian new law Most of them, 260, were arrested under the so-called national security law. accused of activity It happened in Hong Kong.
Police on Monday stressed the extraterritorial reach of the regulation, which criminalizes any activity that endangers China, even if it takes place outside of Hong Kong or mainland China. They argued that the defendants had violated provisions on foreign collusion and incitement to secede.
The eight people charged by police are activists Nathan Law, Anna Kwok and Finn Lau. Two former lawmakers, Dennis Kwok and Ted Hoi. Lawyer Kevin Yam. Union leader Mun Ciutat and businessman and YouTuber Elmer Yuen.
Mr. Kwok, head of the Hong Kong Democratic Council in Washington, remained defiant. “It inspires me to be faster and stronger,” she said in her phone interview.
Could the activists be extradited?
The government’s announcement that it aims to seize eight people raises questions about whether Hong Kong will ask international law enforcement agency Interpol to help track down dissidents. Ronnie Tong, a former lawmaker in John Lee’s cabinet, Hong Kong’s chief executive, said extradition of overseas activists was unlikely.
“Hong Kong law follows very closely the United Nations model law on extradition, which means we do not seek extradition of persons who have committed political crimes or who have political backgrounds,” he said in a telephone interview.
But he added that activists could be detained as they pass through “friendly countries.” Hong Kong authorities may continue to ask international organizations for legal assistance, including providing information on the whereabouts and activities of the eight people, which could be used for prosecution in Hong Kong.
Asked if it would seek cooperation from Interpol, Hong Kong police said in a statement on Tuesday that they would “take all necessary steps in accordance with the law to deter the fugitives.”
What Creates Arrest Warrants and Bounties?
Legal scholars say the indictment and bounty are intended to divisive by isolating and denouncing asylum activists who are campaigning for new legislation in the US, UK and Australia to counter Hong Kong’s crackdown. He said it was.
Thomas E. Kellogg, executive director of the Asian Law Center, said: “Despite the speculation that they are dangerous criminals, they are in fact a threat to peace with the Hong Kong government’s authoritarian direction. I am a critical critic,” he said. He added that such a move could backfire and even put more pressure on governments to act against Hong Kong.
The bounty was an extension of the tactics used by the Chinese government to target activists abroad. Chinese police outpostsaid Eric Lai, a visiting fellow at King’s College London Law School. Last March, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Five people charged with espionage Threatening or intimidating Chinese-American dissidents in the mainland United States.
Hong Kong police have acknowledged the difficulty of arresting expatriates in self-imposed exile, but they are willing to pay $128,000 in exchange for information that can be used as evidence in local courts toward a “successful prosecution” of each individual. offered a bounty. Police added that one of their main objectives was to ensure that there was enough evidence for authorities to file charges if the individual voluntarily returned to Hong Kong.
“If they don’t come back, we can’t arrest them. It’s a fact,” Police Commissioner Lee Kwai Wa said at a news conference. “But we won’t stop chasing them.”
Hong Kong leader John Lee said more harshly. “The only way to end the fate of being a fugitive for life is to surrender,” he said on Tuesday.
How have other governments responded?
The charges sparked outcry from officials in the US, UK and Australia, where the eight now live. The State Department called the extraterritorial application of the national security law “a dangerous precedent that threatens the human rights and fundamental freedoms of people around the world.”
Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong said the government was “deeply concerned” about the arrest warrant and would continue to speak out on human rights issues. “Freedom of expression and assembly are essential to our democracy and we support Australians exercising those rights,” she wrote. twitter on monday.
UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverley said: statement On Monday, the UK said it “will not tolerate any attempt by China to intimidate or silence individuals in the UK or abroad”.
However, the spokesperson Chinese Embassy in London He accused British politicians of “openly protecting wanted fugitives” and of interfering in China’s internal affairs.
https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/04/world/asia/hong-kong-bounties-dissidents.html Hong Kong targets overseas dissidents with bounties