The US State Department said Friday it “strongly condemned” the Hong Kong authorities’ “ongoing harassment” of family members of pro-democracy activists living overseas.
The US said it was “particularly concerned” about recent cases involving activists like Nathan Law, Joshua Wong and Elmer Yuen whose family members and acquaintances had been “detained and questioned by Hong Kong police.”
“We call on the Hong Kong authorities to cease all harassment of the democracy activists’ family members,” said spokesperson Matthew Miller.
“This deliberate campaign to intimidate and silence individuals for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms is a further step in the erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong,” Miller said. “This is also a form of transnational repression to intimidate and silence individuals abroad and to coerce their return.”
Hong Kong police in July searched the family home of exiled pro-democracy activist Law and took his family members away for questioning. They also placed HK$1 million bounties on information leading to the arrest of Law and other prominent activists in self-imposed exile and wanted for national security offenses.
Law had publicly severed ties with his family back in Hong Kong soon after arriving in Britain, where he has since been granted political asylum.
His parents and elder brother were taken away for questioning on July 11 and were asked whether they had been providing financial assistance to him. All three were later released, the city’s public broadcaster RTHK reported, citing police sources.
In a statement provided to CNN, Hong Kong police said its national security department had taken away two men and a woman for investigation. It did not identify them.
The Hong Kong government has repeatedly denied the national security law, imposed by Beijing in 2020, suppresses freedoms. It insists that the law ended chaos and restored stability to the semi-autonomous city after huge pro-democracy protests.
Law and other activists have been accused of violating the national security law, with offenses ranging from collusion with foreign forces to subversion of state power.
In its statement the US State Department called on Hong Kong authorities and the Chinese government to respect the rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong – a former British colony – “as guaranteed by the Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration.”