Former human rights lawyer Tang Jitian has been prevented from entering Hong Kong through Shenzhen to seek medical treatment.

Tang Jitian was a human rights lawyer until his license was revoked in 2010, after he aided practitioners of Falun Gong – a group Chinese authorities deem an “evil cult.” After he was disbarred, he formed rights defence lawyers groups online and also continued to give legal advice as a citizen consultant, according to broadcaster  RTHK.

Tang was detained for about half an hour on Saturday morning as he attempted to enter the city through the Lo Wu crossing in Shenzhen, according US-backed Voice of America and RTHK.

tang jitian
Tang Jitian. Photo: Supplied to RFA.

Tang’s friend, Beijing activist Xiang Li, said that customs staff members told him verbally that he had been banned from leaving the country by the Beijing municipal public security bureau. The reason given was that he may endanger the country’s security if he leaves.

After his release, Tang told RTHK that he had no issues with personal safety, but he did not reveal whether his movements were being restricted.

He also told US-backed Voice of America that he had attempted to seek treatment in Hong Kong as his efforts to seek surgery in Beijing were obstructed.

“[I] was preparing to undergo surgery [for spinal tuberculosis] at the Beijing Military General Hospital – they agreed at first, but later perhaps met with some interference, and urged me to leave.”

His doctor said that it was better to treat the condition with surgery as it affected the bone cavity, so he decided to get treatment in Hong Kong, Tang went on to say.

According to VOA, Tang previously attempted to get treatment at several hospitals in Beijing, but was unable to do so as the hospitals received pressure and threats.

The Guardian cited Tang’s friends as saying in 2011 that he was diagnosed with tuberculosis after being detained in a crackdown on human rights activists in 2011 that followed anonymous online calls for a “jasmine revolution.”

He was also one of four Chinese rights lawyers who said they were tortured by police in 2014 after holding a protest outside a detention centre in Jiansanjiang.

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.