An American lawyer imprisoned for assaulting a policeman in Hong Kong said Wednesday he was banned from the city after being released, capping a multi-year legal saga.

The confrontation between Samuel Phillip Bickett and the plainclothes officer occurred on December 7, 2019, towards the end of huge and at times violent democracy protests that rocked the financial hub. 

Samuel Phillip Bickett. Photo: Twitter.

The officer, Senior Constable Yu Shu-sang, had forcibly stopped a fare dodger, with Bickett saying that Yu had been “beating and choking” the young man with a baton before he intervened. 

Jailed last July, Bickett — who stepped on Yu’s chest and hit him in the face several times in a scuffle caught on camera — appealed but lost in February. 

In a statement on Twitter Wednesday, Bickett said he was released from prison Tuesday and immediately taken to Immigration Detention before being deported. 

“I have been banned from Hong Kong,” Bickett wrote, adding that he was given no time to wind up his affairs before the flight bound for Washington via Istanbul. 

He expressed love for the city, where he had worked as a compliance director at Bank of America.

“I have faith that one day I will be able to once again walk the streets of a Hong Kong ruled by law and governed with the consent of its people,” he said. 

Hong Kong’s Security Bureau has not yet responded to requests for comment on Bickett’s deportation. 

Samuel Bickett protested against Hong Kong’s 2021 Legislative Council election in last December. File photo: Samuel Bickett, via Twitter.

Hong Kong’s 2019 pro-democracy movement was a watershed moment for the city, long caught between China’s authoritarian rule and its identity under Beijing’s “one country, two systems” model — under which it was promised certain liberties and autonomy.

Public trust in the Hong Kong Police Force was hammered when violent clashes during the protests resulted in over 10,200 arrests and hundreds of officers being wounded. 

Its 30,000-strong force was allowed to carry retractable batons during off-duty hours at the time to protect themselves.

The judge overseeing Bickett’s appeal said his confrontation with Yu had occurred during a “most violent chapter” in Hong Kong’s history, whereby police officers “must be protected”. 

But Bickett maintained his innocence, saying he believed Yu’s actions to be unlawful. 

The massive protest movement spurred Beijing to imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong in 2020, designed to crush dissent. 

Since then, critics have splashed doubt on the integrity of Hong Kong’s legal system and rule of law — alleging Beijing’s interference via the implementation of the national security law. 

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