Activist foiled in bid to seek asylum at US consulate

Top News | Erin Chan 28 Oct 2020

Four former Studentlocalism members were denied entry to the US consulate, hours after the teenage leader of the now-defunct group was arrested by police from the national security department.

Tony Chung Hon-lam was meters away from the diplomatic mission, where he planned to seek asylum, when officers took him.

A video taken by a local paper shows four members of the group advocating Hong Kong independence walking along Garden Road and chatting to security guards at about 5pm.

Both the US consulate and police did not comment. The identities of the four were unknown.

Chung, 19, was arrested before he could enter the compound early yesterday morning, said Friends of Hong Kong, a London-based democratic advocacy founded by Britain-based Hongkongers.

But at 8.10am, Chung reported to the group that he was being tailed and could not get away. He lost contact minutes later. Citing an eyewitness, another local paper reported that Chung was taken away by at least four officers, heading toward Murray Building, a former government building turned hotel.

Chung was still being detained for questioning at Central Police Station last night.

Chung's 17-year-old girlfriend, Yanni Ho Yan-nok, and 21-year-old William Chan Wai-yin - both former Studentlocalism members - were detained at Tin Sum Police Station and Tuen Mun Police Station when they reported yesterday afternoon.

"The three arrestees, including Tony Chung, have accepted legal assistance," Studentlocalism said on its Facebook page.

"Tony Chung is currently recording a statement accompanied by a lawyer."

Ho was later taken to her Tai Wai apartment and brought back to the station at 5pm.

Police said three people aged between 17 and 21 were arrested yesterday for breaching Article 21 of the national security law as they had published content about secession and inciting others to commit secession on social media since September.

Chung, Ho, Chan and ex-Studentlocalism spokesman Ho Nok-hang, 20, were required to report to police yesterday following their arrests on July 29 for publishing content about secession and inciting others to commit secession on social media in early July.

Beijing imposed the national security law on Hong Kong on June 30.

The spokesman for Friends of Hong Kong said Chung had sought help from the group earlier as he was worried he might be detained.

He confirmed Chung's asylum bid, adding the group was going to carry out a "rescue operation" to help him seek asylum at the US consulate though police were still holding his passport.

Steve Li Kwai-wah, senior superintendent of the national security department, has said the four were involved in an online post that declared the establishment of a group that promotes the pro-independence ideology, achieving this end at all costs and building a "republic of Hong Kong."

While he did not name the group, it is believed to be the Initiative Independence Party, which was founded by former Studentlocalism members who have completed their studies and are now based overseas.

erin.chan@singtaonewscorp.com

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