Hong Kong hit back at the United States yesterday for listing it as a copyright black spot. Officials accused Washington of pressuring the Government to interfere with the Judiciary. Responding to US trade officials' criticism that sentences or fines handed down by judges were not tough enough to deter piracy, Intellectual Property Department director Stephen Selby said it implied the Government should instruct them to do so. 'No amount of pressure will result in a situation where the administration will try to pressure the Judiciary,' he said. The Office of the US Trade Representative had included Hong Kong for the first time on a list to Congress of places not doing enough to protect intellectual property. At least 20 people were jailed this year for copyright infringements, Mr Selby said. While the report said Hong Kong criminals played a central role in piracy on the mainland, Customs said it did not have enough 'hard and fast evidence' to pursue the local connection. It had been supplied with lists of people involved in counterfeiting but would need the 'ammunition' of legislative amendments under consideration to pursue those involved with piracy outside Hong Kong, said Senior Superintendent Ronny Tsang Hing-kam. He said the first copyright case which would involve the tougher sentencing provisions introduced last year would begin next month. Senior officials expressed disappointment Hong Kong was listed, although the report said Hong Kong's intellectual property laws were among the best in the world.