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Hong Kong leader says eight activists ‘will be pursued for life’

AP – Hong Kong’s Chief Executive said yesterday that eight pro-democracy activists who now live in the United States (US), Britain, Canada and Australia will be pursued for life for alleged national security offences, dismissing criticism that the move to have them arrested was a dangerous precedent.

John Lee expressed his support for the police’s efforts to arrest the eight. At his weekly media briefing, Lee said anyone, including their friends and relatives, who offered information leading to their arrests would be eligible for the bounties offered by the police.

“The only way to end their destiny of being an abscondee who will be pursued for life is to surrender,” he said.

The arrest warrants were issued for former lawmakers Nathan Law, Ted Hui and Dennis Kwok, lawyer Kevin Yam, unionist Mung Siu-tat and activists Finn Lau, Anna Kwok and Elmer Yuen.

They were accused of breaching the National Security Law by committing offences such as collusion and inciting secession. More than 260 people have been arrested under the law enacted in 2020 as part of a broad crackdown on dissent in the territory, but the rewards of HKD1 million (USD127,600) for information leading to each arrest were the first under the law.

The move quickly drew ire from the US and British governments, which took issue with the extraterritorial application of the security law. The US said such an application of the security law was a dangerous precedent that threatened human rights. Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong also tweeted that her country was “deeply concerned” by reports of Hong Kong authorities issuing arrest warrants for democracy advocates.

But Lee insisted extraterritorial power exists in the national security laws of many countries.

He said how overseas officials and politicians commented on the government’s moves will not change his administration’s strong belief in safeguarding national security.

Hong Kong activist Nathan Law, takes part in a protest in Berlin, Germany. PHOTO: AP