The German consulate in Hong Kong has said that the German asylum-granting authority operated independently in granting refugee status to two wanted activists, and that the “Federal Foreign Office is not part of the decision-making process.”

Ray Wong and Alan Li, who were leading members of the pro-independence group Hong Kong Indigenous, faced rioting charges related to the 2016 Mong Kok unrest. They fled the city in November 2017 ahead of their trials, and were granted refugee status in Germany last May.

ray wong alan li
This handout courtesy of Ray Wong taken in June 2018 and released on May 22, 2019 shows activists Ray Wong (L) and Alan Li posing for a photo in Berlin. Photo: AFP Handout.

On Tuesday, the German Consulate General issued a statement saying that the decision was made independently from the country’s foreign ministry.

“The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) is in charge of the procedure for granting the refugee status and takes decisions independently. The BAMF considers the motivation stated by every asylum seeker during the asylum proceedings in a case-by-case examination in accordance with the rule of law.”

”Press release by the German Consulate General – click to view“

german consulate statement

Chief Executive Carrie Lam “expressed deep regret and strong objection” at Germany’s move, and last Friday called a meeting with Acting Consul General David Schmidt.

The consulate responded that it has “taken note” of Lam’s concerns, and that Berlin “attributes great importance to the traditionally very good bilateral relations” with Hong Kong.

Dieter Lamle
German Consul General Dieter Lamle. Photo: German Consulate in Hong Kong, via Facebook.

“The Consulate General would like to reiterate that the policy of the German Federal Government towards Hong Kong has not changed and that we will continue to foster our traditionally friendly relations,” the statement read.

The consulate said it was in contact with the relevant authorities regarding Wong and Li, but declined to provide more information citing data protection.

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Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.