Philip Bowring, the husband of detained Hong Kong democrat Claudia Mo, has said that he did not endorse the call from a group of 54 British lawmakers and public figures for his wife’s release to allow her to visit him in hospital. His comment came in a letter from Mo’s family sent weeks after he received treatment in an intensive care unit for pneumonia.

Mo, a former lawmaker, has been detained for over two years after being denied bail under the Beijing-imposed national security law over an alleged conspiracy to commit subversion.

Philip Bowring.
Philip Bowring. File photo: HKU JMSC.

Mo, 66, has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced after the trial, where she could face life imprisonment.

She is among the 47 pro-democracy figures charged in the city’s largest national security case after organising or taking part in an unofficial primary election for a then-postponed Legislative Council election.

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Politicians and public figures from the UK were among those who called for the compassionate release of Mo after news broke that Bowring had been hospitalised and admitted to intensive care with pneumonia.

Defendants charged under the sweeping security legislation have to go through a more stringent bail assessment. Apart from the defendant’s risk of absconding or obstructing justice, hand-picked security judges also have to consider whether there are sufficient grounds to believe they “will not continue to commit acts endangering national security.”

Claudia Mo
Claudia Mo. File Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

In a letter from Mo’s family dated Sunday, Bowring said he had been out of intensive care for three weeks, and had been discharged from hospital.

“I have not in any way been notified, contacted or consulted by UK-based parliamentarians or NGOs with regards to their recent statement, nor do I endorse it,” the letter from Bowring read.

Bowring also said that Mo had not applied for or considered applying for bail “in light of the circumstances.”

A letter from Philip Bowring.
A letter from Philip Bowring. Photo: Supplied.

The national security trial against the 47 democrats began last month, and is expected to last for 90 days.

Critics say the case is a political prosecution exemplifying a crackdown on dissent, whilst the government has claimed the 47 sought to “organise, plan, implement, or participate in” subversion.

The security law also criminalises 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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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.