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Commissioner of Police Chris Tang at the force’s headquarters in Wan Chai. Photo: Sam Tsang

Hong Kong police chief slams Joshua Wong over ‘trumped-up’ accusations force conspired in arrest of 12 fugitives held in mainland China

  • Commissioner of Police Chris Tang dismisses suggestions of conspiracy to hold 12 wanted Hongkongers across the border
  • Wong had said force conspired to kidnap the group for ‘secret trial, detention and torture’
Hong Kong’s police chief has dismissed suggestions by opposition activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung that the force conspired to kidnap 12 fugitives being held in mainland China as, “trumped-up and malicious accusations”.

In a Facebook post, Wong claimed Hong Kong authorities worked with their counterparts across the border to seize the 12 so they could be held for “for secret trial, torture and detention”.

The fugitives, who are wanted in Hong Kong in connection with anti-government protest cases, were captured at sea by the Chinese coastguard as they tried to flee to Taiwan in August.

On Wednesday, Commissioner of Police Chris Tang Ping-keung said the 12 were criminals had plotted their own escape.


Family of 12 detained Hongkongers say government lied about capture

Family of 12 detained Hongkongers say government lied about capture

“The 12 jumped bail and deserted,” Tang said. “Investigations clearly showed that they bought a boat, found a temporary shelter to hide and found a contact point in Taiwan.

“The malicious accusations by Joshua Wong … As I said, no one kidnapped them. It was them who did their own desertion. They absconded away from criminal proceedings in Hong Kong.”

Tang also stressed police had played no role in the operation, which was carried out by mainland authorities.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo waded into the row on Wednesday, claiming the fugitives “had committed no crimes” and the United States would support them.

“They simply believe that they are worthy of freedom and the unalienable rights due to every person,” he said. “They aren’t alone in that belief. America stands with them.”

Hong Kong fugitives held on mainland will not learn fate for months, lawyer says

The 12 Hongkongers have been held at a detention centre in Shenzhen since their arrest. Ten are being detained on suspicion of crossing the border illegally, and the other two for organising the attempt.

Pompeo’s remarks came two days after Wong’s Facebook appeal demanding the immediate return of the fugitives.

He called their arrest a “conspiracy of authorities to kidnap 12 Hong Kong activists to China for secret trial, torture and detention”.

Wong added: “But the Hong Kong government is reluctant to save the activists, claiming they don’t have a role on this matter.

“Not only did the authorities witness the interception of the 12 youths, they were involved in the conspiracy to kidnap them to China for secret trial and detention.”

The fugitives were stopped by the Chinese coastguard as they attempted to flee to Taiwan. Photo: Weibo
Over the weekend, Hong Kong police arrested nine people, including former assistants to three ex-lawmakers, on suspicion of helping the fugitives escape.

They have been accused of providing funding, arranging a speedboat, and organising hideouts for the fugitives in Hong Kong and once they arrived in Taiwan.

Opposition activists have repeatedly urged the government to release details about the movements of an official aircraft the day the fugitives were arrested, claiming leaked information showed police used the plane to monitor the speedboat.

Its path over Hong Kong’s southeastern waters was on a course leading to the coordinates released by the Chinese coastguard pinpointing the interception location.

Tang said the force conducted many operations every day and would not disclose any details to ensure the “integrity of police operations”.

US-China row over detention of 12 Hongkongers in Shenzhen escalates

The detention of the 11 men and a woman, aged 16 to 33, for nearly two months has worsened already strained ties between China and the United States.

Among them was activist Andy Li, 29, who was arrested in August under the city’s sweeping new national security law.
But Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has insisted mainland authorities had the jurisdictional right to detain the fugitives, saying those who depicted them as oppressed democracy activists were trying to distract from their status as wanted individuals.