A local Falun Gong chief has hit back at Buddhist leaders over an attack apparently aimed at the sect, claiming the criticisms are politically motivated. The banned mainland sect's Hong Kong spokesman, Kan Hung-cheung, said religious leaders should respect the freedom of the group to operate. He was responding to an attack by two veteran Buddhists, Lai Sze-nuen, the vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Buddhist Association and its director, Au Kit-ming. Mr Au had urged the SAR Government to outlaw 'evil cults posing a threat to society' under the banner of religious freedom and the principle of 'one country, two systems'. He did not name Falun Gong, but accused cults of possibly subverting the territory and swindling people. 'The SAR Government should take appropriate measures to outlaw those activities,' he said in a statement issued this week. Mr Kan said: 'I would not rule out that they [the Buddhists] did that with political motives.' The breathing and exercise group held a seminar for followers worldwide in the SAR this month, while several members have been deported from the mainland and Macau in recent weeks. Mr Kan said Falun Gong was not a religion and had nothing to do with Buddhism. 'I don't think we should suppress others' freedom for whatever purpose. Why should people who believe something good be suppressed?' He then hinted at political motivations to the attack: 'Maybe there are other reasons, we don't know. 'I don't want to confront anybody as they might not understand much about Falun Gong and therefore have made false statements,' he said. Defending the group's integrity, he added: 'We don't have a list of members. People can come and go as their wish. 'We don't ask for money and don't charge. We are not an economic entity and we are informally organised.' The Security Bureau said it would uphold religious freedom in accordance with the Basic Law. 'Hong Kong people enjoy religious freedom. However, anyone who does harm to others in the name of religion will be dealt with in accordance with our laws,' a spokesman said.