US RAPS ARREST OF HK ACTIVISTS BUT MUM ON CASE OF ASYLUM SEEKERS
The United States condemned the recent arrest of Hong Kong student democracy activists as another sign of China's national security law curtailing freedoms, but declined to comment on a report that Hong Kong asylum-seekers were turned away by the US consulate general.
"Due to privacy considerations, we cannot comment," a U.S. State Department spokesperson said in a statement when asked about a South China Morning Post (SCMP) report that four activists entered the US consulate in Hong Kong in a bid to claim asylum, but were rejected, Kyodo news agency reported late on October 29, 2020. The official noted: "Asylum can only be requested upon arrival in the United States."
The development followed the reported arrest of 19-year-old Tony Chung, a former leader of a pro-independence group, at a coffee shop opposite the US consulate on Tuesday morning. The arrest was made before he could approach the consulate for asylum. Hours later, two former members of the group were also arrested. All three had been out on bail since July after first being arrested for alleged violations of the national security legislation on Hong Kong, which was enacted in late June, according to the SCMP.
"We condemn the Hong Kong Police Force's arrest and detention of three student democracy activists," the State Department official said, adding that the use of the police's national security unit for the detention of a minor in a coffee shop is "reprehensible."