Self-exiled democrat Ted Hui has shared a letter, apparently from the chief inspector of the Hong Kong Police Force, inviting him to surrender.

The former lawmaker, who fled the city in 2020 and now lives in Australia, is wanted under the national security law for alleged “incitement to succession” and “collusion with foreign countries,” according to the letter citing a 2021 magistrate’s warrant.

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Ted Hui leaves the UK for Australia. Photo: May James/HKFP.

The letter from Chief Inspector Peggy Chan appeared to have been sent to Hui’s lawyer and was shared by the democrat on his Twitter account on Saturday. Chan stated that Hui is “advised to return to Hong Kong and surrender to any Police Station with this letter and his identification document… for execution of the said warrant.”

In response, Hui tweeted: “I just received this from the Hong Kong Police, asking me to surrender to them under the arrest warrant for incitement to secession and collusion with foreign forces. What do you think I should say in reply?”

Article 38 of the security law states that it is applicable worldwide, though several foreign governments axed their extradition treaties after Beijing imposed the legislation on the city.

Australia suspended its extradition deal with Hong Kong days after the law was inserted into the Basic Law in 2020.

Hui told HKFP on Monday that he had no plans to respond to the police request as it would be a “waste of time.” He also said he had no plans to return to the city: “I was surprised that the police didn’t email or Facebook message me as they always did. It sounds like they want to threaten, or at least create trouble for my lawyer. The content of the letter is ridiculous of course, as it is nothing wrong for me to advocate Hong Kong’s freedom while I’m overseas.”

When approached by HKFP, a police spokesperson said they would not comment on individual cases: “Police would, on the basis of actual circumstances of each case and according to the law, locate and apprehend the suspects through different channels.”

Sentenced in absentia

Hui – who was often seen liaising with police and demonstrators on the frontlines of the 2019 protests and unrest – is facing multiple criminal charges. They include those relating to protests within the legislative chamber during his time as a lawmaker and a demonstration in July 2019, during which he allegedly erased video footage from another person’s phone.

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Ted Hui during the 2019 protests and unrest. File Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Whilst on bail in 2020, Hui was given permission to attend a duty visit in Denmark, telling authorities he would return. However, it emerged that he had enlisted the help of Danish legislators to draft a bogus itinerary and invitation letter to facilitate his departure. He travelled to Australia in March 2021, via the UK, saying he would not return to the city. The Security Bureau “strongly condemned” Hui’s decision to flee, vowing to track down fugitive offenders.

Last September, he was sentenced to 3.5 years in jail in absentia over four counts of contempt of court for skipping bail. Judge Andrew Chan said Hui had “greatly undermined” public confidence in the administration of justice and “made a mockery of the criminal justice system” after fleeing the city while on bail.

In June 2020, Beijing inserted national security legislation directly into Hong Kong’s mini-constitution – bypassing the local legislature – following a year of pro-democracy protests and unrest. It criminalised subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to transport and other infrastructure. The move gave police sweeping new powers, alarming democrats, civil society groups and trade partners, as such laws have been used broadly to silence and punish dissidents in China. However, the authorities say it has restored stability and peace to the city.

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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.