Hong Kong police chief Chris Tang has hit out at “malicious” accusations” by Joshua Wong, after the pro-democracy activist accused the force of “kidnapping” 12 Hong Kong fugitives who have been detained in mainland China for almost two months.
At a press conference on Wednesday, the commissioner of police slammed Wong as “smearing” the force, saying that the detention of the 12 Hongkongers who tried to flee to Taiwan on a speedboat in late August was an operation resting solely with mainland authorities.
He said the suspects – most of whom are facing criminal prosecution in Hong Kong for activities linked to the yearlong pro-democracy protests – decided to jump bail and made arrangements to flee the city.
“The malicious accusations by Joshua Wong, [suggesting] we conspired to kidnap the 12 criminals to mainland China. It is very obvious that no one kidnapped them. They did their own abscondment away from criminal proceedings in Hong Kong,” Tang said.
Activist Andy Li, who was among those on board, was arrested in early August for allegedly colluding with foreign forces under the Beijing-imposed national security law. The controversial legislation enacted on June 30 also criminalises secession, subversion and terrorist acts, which are broadly defined to include disruption to transportation and other infrastructure.
Ten of the detained Hongkongers face a charge of crossing the border illegally, while the other two are accused of organising such an act. Their family members have plead for release and access to the group, while the Hong Kong authorities said they would not interfere with the law enforcement in another jurisdiction.
Government Flying Service
Last week, Wong said he had obtained documents from sources that appeared to show the Government Flying Service (GFS) had staged a surveillance operation on the day of the arrest. A report by Apple Daily earlier also cited flight data that appeared to show a GFS aircraft tracking the group’s boat.
In response to the questions about the alleged air surveillance operation, the head of the Hong Kong police did not give a direct answer. Tang only said the force often cooperate with different departments, adding that he would not disclose their operational details.
“If we disclose the operational details, the criminals may take advantage of it,” he said.
Last Saturday, Hong Kong police arrested nine people on suspicion of assisting the 12 fugitives. Their roles included ownership of the boat, financial backing, providing accommodation before the trip, transportation to the pier and making arrangements for their lives after arriving in Taiwan, police said.