Hong Kong’s Director of Public Prosecutions David Leung has resigned from his role, citing differences with the Secretary for Justice (SJ) Teresa Cheng.
“It is most unfortunate that I do not see eye to eye with the SJ on the running of the PD [Prosecutions Division], and the situation has not improved with the passage of time,” he wrote in an email to colleagues at the department on justice on Friday.
“This is not conducive to the smooth operation of the PD,” he said, adding that it will be best for Cheng and the division to have a new director of public prosecutions “so that new ideas and visions can be brought in.”
The prosecutor also revealed he had been excluded from participating in national security cases under a new Beijing-imposed law, criminalising secession, sedition, terrorism and foreign interference in the city: “As to national security cases, I do not have information for you as my assistance and participation in those matters have not been required,” he wrote.
He wrote the government will appoint a new director to fill his position from January next year.
Leung joined the prosecutions division in 1995 and was appointed as its head in 2017 under the previous justice secretary Rimsky Yuen. He has been known for leading prosecutions against high-profile figures involved in the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement, including the leading academics Benny Tai and Chan Kin-man, and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming.
At a press conference on the postponement of the legislative election, the Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng confirmed his plan to leave his post moments after the news broke on Friday but declined to go into further details.
“Indeed, [Leung] has informed me of his intention to leave on a particular date but I think in all fairness, we should allow him to make a proper statement at an appropriate time rather than to comment on this now when we’re looking at a more important matter,” she told the press.
Leung and Cheng came under fire last year when a group of at least five prosecutors – including a high-ranking one – issued an open letter accusing the pair of failing to face the legal profession and the public “sincerely.” They also claimed Cheng had trampled on the top prosecutor, who had failed in his “gatekeeping” role.