US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Sunday for the immediate release of Hong Kong dissidents charged and detained under Beijing’s sweeping new national security law.

“We condemn the detention of and charges filed against pan-democratic candidates in Hong Kong’s elections and call for their immediate release,” Blinken said on Twitter.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Photo: US Department of State via Flickr.

“Political participation and freedom of expression should not be crimes. The US stands with the people of Hong Kong,” he wrote.

Dozens of Hong Kong dissidents were charged with subversion on Sunday in the largest use yet of the national security law, as authorities seek to cripple the financial hub’s democracy movement.

Police arrested 55 of the city’s best-known pro-democracy campaigners in a series of dawn raids last month.

On Sunday, 47 were charged with one count each of “conspiracy to commit subversion” — one of the new national security crimes — with police saying the group would appear in court on Monday morning.

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