Four Taiwanese Falun Gong followers were refused entry to Hong Kong in 2003 not because of their religion but because officials feared they might pose a threat to public order, a court heard yesterday. 'There is no immigration policy of refusal of entry merely by the fact that they are members of Falun Gong or they are affiliated with the religious group,' government counsel Daniel Fung Wah-kin, SC, told the Court of First Instance. Mr Fung said the four were denied entry because they might 'involve with other people in organising disruptive activities to pose threats to the public order in Hong Kong'. Theresa Chu Woan-chyi, Liao Hsiao-lan, Lu Lih-ching and Chang Jenn-yen were granted leave in April 2003 to conduct a judicial review of the director of immigration's decision to deny them entry. Yesterday Paul Harris, counsel for the four, said the security concern was not sufficient justification to refuse their entry when his clients were not 'international terrorists'. He pointed out the Basic Law guaranteed freedom of demonstration. He had earlier asked the court for an immigration watch list, which contained the defendants' names, and documents related to the decision to deny them entry in February 2003. They were travelling to attend a religious conference. Mr Fung yesterday said the watch list was highly reliable, but those listed might be allowed into Hong Kong for 'compelling reasons', such as on humanitarian grounds. In explaining the list, he said the Immigration Department had established procedures to determine the list. A computer system would alert front-line immigration officers if someone included on the list appeared before an immigration counter. The visitors would then be interviewed by another immigration officer about the purpose of visit. The information would be passed to a senior immigration officer and later a supervisory officer who would make recommendations to the highest ranking immigration officer in the airport, to determine whether to allow the visitor in. Mr Fung said that only the commander at the airport could assess the 'highly sensitive' information behind the security concerns. Mr Justice Michael Hartmann yesterday reserved his judgment on whether to allow the four Falun Gong members to obtain documents relating to the government decision to refuse them entry to attend the Hong Kong Falun Gong Experience Sharing Conference. In all, 83 overseas Falun Gong practitioners were refused entry to Hong Kong at the time, 80 of them from Taiwan.