High-profile Diaoyus activist Yang Kuang returned to Hong Kong last night, 22 hours after being pushed to the ground, given a bloody nose and detained by mainland authorities.
He was trying to visit Liu Xia, the wife of jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, in Beijing. Yang said he was deported for "picking quarrels and provoking troubles."
He was escorted to the airport by security personnel and placed on a flight for Hong Kong, arriving at 8pm to the cheers of more than a dozen People Power members and Diaoyu Islands activists.
They included People Power lawmaker Raymond Wong Yuk-man and Hong Kong-based Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands activist Or Wah.
The activists shouted slogans, including "Protesting against unfair arrest" and "Giving back freedom to Hong Kong people."
At the time of Yang's detention, several unidentified men attacked TVB cameraman Tam Wing-man and Now TV cameraman Wong Kim-fai who were filming him.
"It was totally unfair for the mainland authorities to arrest me," Yang said.
"I tried to register at the building [where Liu Xia lives in Beijing] and they could have turned me away. But before they confronted me, they had already attacked the cameramen and reporters from Hong Kong.
"They pushed me against the ground and I saw that there was blood coming from my nose."
He did not say what happened during his detention as this could affect other mainland activists.
Yang said he had lost his home return permit during the trip and does not know if he will ever return. "But I have been in contact with mainland activists and will continue to fight for the release of political prisoners in the mainland."
Yang said he was not contacted by any Hong Kong government official during his detention.
Since his mainland bank account was frozen, he had to borrow 3,000 yuan (HK$3,744) from mainland police officials to buy a ticket back to Hong Kong.
Yang said he originally planned to give a yellow ribbon and items including cash to encourage Liu Xia, who is apparently under illegal house arrest.
Yang was deported from Japan in 1998 and again in 2012 after sailing to the Diaoyu Islands to stage protests.
"But I don't know why I needed to be deported from Beijing since Hong Kong is already part of China," Yang said.
Yang was the skipper of the fishing boat Kai Fung No 2 that made a successful landing on the disputed Diaoyus last August, despite being rammed by Japan Coast Guard vessels. The move triggered a wave of anti-Japanese protests in the mainland.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said nothing about Yang's detention when questioned at a public function yesterday.
But he spoke against the attack on the journalists, saying the local media should be respected and he had directed government departments to follow up the matter.
Meanwhile, calls mounted for Leung to adopt a higher profile on the incident.
People Power protested outside the central government liaison office to demand an explanation from Beijing.
And James To Kun-sun, deputy chairman of the Legislative Council's security panel, said Leung needs to express his grave concern to top mainland officials.