The US consulate yesterday defended President George W. Bush against accusations of meddling after he voiced concern over the arrest of a Hong Kong man who is facing the death penalty for allegedly smuggling Bibles to the mainland. The consulate was responding to Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee's remarks on Tuesday that while the US had the freedom to express its views, nobody should interfere with another country's legal and judicial systems. Mrs Ip also said the SAR Government could not intervene in the arrest of businessman Lai Kwong-keung, 38, as the events had taken place outside Hong Kong. Mr Bush voiced deep concern last week over the arrest of Lai and two mainlanders for allegedly smuggling 16,280 Bibles to Fuqing city, Fujian province, on May 31 to an underground Christian group called the 'Shouters'. The three were charged with using a cult to undermine the enforcement of the law. A US consulate spokeswoman said yesterday: 'We have called upon China as a member of the international community to meet international standards on freedom of religious expression and freedom of conscience. These are standards embodied in the Universal Declarations of Human Rights. The issue of interfering in another country's legal system thus does not arise.' Rose Wu Lo-sai, director of the Hong Kong Christian Institute, said Mrs Ip seemed to be following the lead of Chinese officials in ignoring religious freedom.