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21 Sep 2020 5:58
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  •   Home > News > International

    Wanted by China, Nathan Law is worried foreign journalists could soon be harassed in Hong Kong

    Nathan Law was once elected to Hong Kong's Legislative Council but now he's living in exile in London. He warns foreign media could soon face "nonsense" censorship and holds deep fears over activists detained on the mainland.

    A prominent Hong Kong dissident has warned foreign media in Hong Kong could soon face the same harassment that compelled two Australian journalists to leave mainland China this month.

    Nathan Law, who is now living in exile, told the ABC's PM program that he has followed the cases of Australian journalists Bill Birtles and Mike Smith as they fled from mainland China.

    "That kind of strict control or even nonsense censorship of foreign reporters in mainland China could be implemented in Hong Kong."

    "I have [heard] some information saying that there are already foreign reporters being denied visas," he said.

    Mr Law had once been elected to the Legislative Council in Hong Kong but is currently a wanted man and is now being tried in absentia in Hong Kong on charges of unlawful assembly.

    Now living in London, Mr Law fled after Beijing imposed a new National Security Law on Hong Kong, which has criminalised activity considered secession or subversion.

    Mr Law has been a leader of the pro-democracy movement since banding together with other student leaders, including Joshua Wong, to found the pro-democracy party Demosisto after the 2014 umbrella movement protests.

    He eventually won a Legislative Council seat in 2016 as a candidate for the party but was then disqualified after using his swearing ceremony to make a political statement.

    The party disbanded this year on the day China's new national security law came into effect and Mr Law left Hong Kong shortly after, in July this year.

    Exiled democracy leader worried about 12 Hong Kong activists held in Shenzhen

    In August, 12 Hong Kong activists tried to flee the territory on a speedboat and they are currently being held in mainland China after authorities intercepted them before they could reach Taiwan.

    On Tuesday, Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the detention of the activists should not be viewed as a crackdown on the pro-democracy movement but was instead a criminal matter.

    "The reason for their fleeing Hong Kong is seemingly to escape their legal responsibilities," she said.

    Mr Law said he was worried the activists could face a barrage of falsified charges.

    "The concrete fear is that they will be charged with trumped-up cases saying that they violated the national security law or other criminal offenses and [authorities] lock them up in mainland China for years.

    "It happens to a lot of human rights lawyers and also Taiwanese activists in China and it could happen to them."

    Last week families of the activists held a press conference in Hong Kong wearing sunglasses and hoodies, to shield their identities while asking to be able to speak with their relatives.

    Mr Law said lawyers acting on behalf of the families of those detained had not yet been given access to the activists and Chinese authorities had given few details on the conditions they are being held in.

    The 12 activists are currently being detained in Shenzhen, just across the border from the Hong Kong region, in mainland China.

    "The Hong Kong people's demands are just to send them back to Hong Kong and [try them] under a Hong Kong court trial, rather than the ones in mainland China."

    Law says he is still concerned for his safety after move to London

    Since moving to London earlier this year, Mr Law said he had been able to continue his political activism and involvement with the movement in Hong Kong.

    "If I were in Hong Kong and I spoke the things that I have been speaking for past few months, I [would be] in jail already.

    "We need a public figure on the international level to speak up for Hong Kong people. And I think in this stage, I'm playing that role."

    Mr Law said he believed publicly criticising the Chinese Communist Party, even while living in the United Kingdom, put him at some risk.

    "We all understand how far reaching China's reach could be.

    "I've always been very vigilant about my surrounding and hoping that I can protect myself but at the end of the day, you never know, so this is only thing that I can do."

    © 2020 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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