Exactly a year ago on August 8, Simon Cheng – a staff member at the British Consulate-General Hong Kong at the time – was detained by Chinese authorities at the end of a business trip over the border.

He was accused of soliciting prostitution on the mainland – a claim which his family rejected. He was released on August 24 after 15 days of administrative detention. In November 2019, Cheng claimed he was tortured while detained, saying he was “shackled, blindfolded and hooded.” Chinese state media later published a “confession” video of Cheng and security camera footage that appeared to show the former UK consulate staffer visiting a message parlour. But Cheng said the confession was “forced.”

On Wednesday, HKFP spoke to Cheng who now resides in the UK under political asylum. The 29-year-old shared his thoughts on being one of the six “wanted” activists by local police on suspicion of violating the Beijing-imposed national security law.

The six exiled activists on the HKPF’s “Wanted” list. From top row Left to Right: Simon Cheng, Nathan Law, Samuel Chu. Ray Wong, Wayne Chan, and Honcques Laus.

Cheng touched on his international advocacy work, including the launch of Haven Assistance, which seeks to offer immigration and asylum advice to Hongkongers. He also reflected on “the most shocking” experience of going from a consulate worker to a pro-democracy activist living in exile in under a year.

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Hong Kong Free Press is a new, non-profit, English-language news source seeking to unite critical voices on local and national affairs. Free of charge and completely independent, HKFP arrives amid rising concerns over declining press freedom in Hong Kong and during an important time in the city’s constitutional development.