Hong Kong slammed the “harbouring of criminals” by foreign governments on Wednesday after reports emerged that Germany had granted asylum to a student activist facing a riot charge.

The 22-year-old female student skipped bail and fled to Germany last November after being arrested during citywide pro-democracy protests, according to Haven Assistance, a group that offers immigration and asylum advice to Hongkongers.

"August 31, 2019" protest tear gas frontline
Protest scenes from August 31, 2019. Photo: Studio Incendo.

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung and Secretary for Security John Lee met with the city’s German Consul General Dieter Lamlé to express their stern opposition, a government spokesperson said in a statement.

“The [Hong Kong] government strongly objects to the harbouring of criminals under different pretexts by other jurisdictions,” the city’s no. 2 official was quoted as saying. “This would only send a plainly wrong message to criminals that they need not face any criminal liability. “

Cheung said “every individual should be responsible for his or her illegal actions,” adding that those accused of breaching Hong Kong’s laws would be subject to “open and fair trials” conducted in an “independent, fair and just manner,” citing the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance.

In the meeting, the chief secretary said that the government would be “dismayed” at any failure to not “duly” take into account legal provisions when determining the “truth and veracity of any claims for refugee status.”

Matthew Cheung Dieter Lamle
Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung and German Consul General Dieter Lamlé.

Cheung also told Lamlé that Germany should “stop interfering with Hong Kong affairs, which are internal matters within the People’s Republic of China.”

Haven Assistance said on Monday that an unidentified student from the Chinese University of Hong Kong had been granted refugee status for three years. Other Hong Kong activists who have been granted asylum in Germany included Ray Wong and Alan Li.

Earlier this month, Canada also granted asylum to a Hong Kong couple who had been active participants in last year’s pro-democracy protests. The movement was triggered by a government’s attempt to draw up an extradition agreement with mainland China.

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Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.