Hong Kong activist makes bail but barred from travel over alleged misleading of police with China agents kidnap claim
Howard Lam Tsz-kin, 42, has request rejected to travel to the United States to study theology at Yale University
A democracy activist who claimed he was kidnapped and tortured by mainland Chinese agents was released on bail but barred from leaving Hong Kong as he appeared in court on Thursday to face a charge of misleading police.
Kowloon City Court rejected Democratic Party member Howard Lam Tsz-kin’s request to be allowed to travel to the United States later this month to study theology at Yale University.
Lam, 42, was not required to enter a plea on one count of misleading a police officer. He was granted cash bail of HK$5,000 on the condition he remain in Hong Kong, and was told to report to a police station twice a week. The case was adjourned to September 14.
It was the activist’s first court appearance since his early morning arrest on Tuesday. He had been in a custodial ward in hospital, complaining of feeling unwell.
Lam is accused of knowingly misleading detective police constable Wong Kai-pui at Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam last Friday and feeding him with false information about being abducted at the junction of Portland Street and Pitt Street in Yau Ma Tei the day before.
“I understand,” Lam said, after the charge was read out to him.
Prosecutors asked for an adjournment, saying police would need time to expand the scope of their investigation, including viewing CCTV footage and looking for witnesses. They did not object to Lam’s bail on condition that he remain in the city.
Lam’s lawyer said the activist had been admitted in April to study at Yale under prominent Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf, and had booked a flight to leave Hong Kong on August 27.
He argued against the travel ban, promising the court Lam would return to Hong Kong to attend his trial. But Principal Magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen disagreed.
Lam held a press conference last Friday claiming he had been pushed into a van by Putonghua-speaking men who took him to an unknown location, tortured him by punching staples into his thighs and then dumped him on a beach in Sai Kung.
While in custody at Hung Hom police station on Wednesday, he complained of feeling unwell and was sent to a detention ward at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Yau Ma Tei.
Doctors on Thursday morning decided that he was fit to attend court and discharged him.