UK charges three with working for Hong Kong intel services

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UK charges three with working for Hong Kong intel services

Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Police announced earlier today that they had charged three men with assisting a foreign intelligence service and also with foreign interference, in violation of the 2023 National Security Act. — Reuters pic

LONDON, May 13 — Three suspects went before a UK court today on charges they assisted Hong Kong’s intelligence services, the latest in a recent series of alleged espionage cases in Europe with Chinese links.

The three men, dressed in grey tracksuits, spoke only to confirm their names and addresses during the short hearing after being arrested last week in Britain.

Suspects Chi Leung Wai, 38, Matthew Trickett, 37, and Chung Biu Yuen, 63, all from southeast England, were released on bail, with the next hearing due to take place on May 24.

Police announced earlier today that they had charged three men with assisting a foreign intelligence service and also with foreign interference, in violation of the 2023 National Security Act.

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The act came into force in December and is designed to bolster UK national security against so-called “hostile activity” targeting the country’s democratic institutions, economy and values.

“A number of arrests were made, and searches carried out across England as part of this investigation,” said Dominic Murphy, Head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command.

“The foreign intelligence service to which the above charges relate is that of Hong Kong,” police said.

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Britain has repeatedly denounced the treatment of pro-democracy campaigners in its former colony and launched a visa scheme to allow Hong Kong residents to come to the UK.

As a result, it has become a refuge for dissidents, including pro-democracy politician Nathan Law.

Hong Kong police last year issued a wanted list of eight overseas activists that included Law.

The UK has also been outspoken about the Hong Kong government’s new national security law, which it views as eroding the territory’s rights and freedoms.

As part of the Met police’s investigation, 11 people were taken into custody last week.

Counter terrorism officers arrested eight men and a woman in Yorkshire, northern England, on Wednesday. Two more men were arrested on Thursday.

The seven men and one woman, who were not charged, were released from custody on or before Friday, police added.

‘Pathetic’

The case comes after two men, one of whom works in the UK parliament, were last month charged with spying for China. They are due to be tried next year.

Former prime minister David Cameron, now foreign minister, in 2015 hailed a “Golden Age” between London and Beijing, but relations have deteriorated significantly in recent years.

As well as Hong Kong, the two countries have clashed over the fate of the Uighur Muslim minority in China’s Xinjiang region and over human rights in Tibet.

The last British governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, called Cameron’s “Golden Age” proclamation “absolutely pathetic”.

“David Cameron introducing Xi Jinping to his pub near Chequers with a warm pint of beer - for what?” Patten told BBC Radio 4 programme “Shadow War: China and the West”.

Patten, governor between 1992 and 1997, accepted that “we want to do business with” China, but added “the idea that you can only do this on your knees I find demeaning and ludicrous.”

Amnesty International said in a report today that China was targeting citizens studying abroad for their political activism, with some students reporting harassment of family members back home.

Asked about the Amnesty report today, Beijing’s foreign ministry dismissed it as “purely malicious smears”. — AFP

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