Three men in the UK charged with spying for Hong Kong

Three men in the UK charged with spying for Hong Kong
Three men in the UK charged with spying for Hong Kong

Chi Leung Wai leaves Westminster Magistrates’ Court, central London (Yui Mok/PA via AP)

The manager of Hong Kong’s Economic and Trade Office in London and two other men appeared in court on Monday accused of helping the Hong Kong intelligence agency. Hong Kong to collect information in the UK, amid growing concern that hostile states are seeking to interfere with British democracy and economic activity.

TO Chi Leung (Peter) Wai, 38 years old, Matthew Trickett37, and Chung Biu Yuen, 63, were granted bail during a brief hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. The men, who sat side by side in the glass-fronted dock, spoke only to confirm their identities. The Hong Kong government confirmed that one of the suspects was the director of the trade office, but did not identify him by name.

Police allege that between December 20 and May 2, Yuen, Wai and Trickett agreed to participate in information gathering, surveillance and acts of deception which are likely to materially assist the Hong Kong intelligence service. The charges include allegations that the men broke into a residence on May 1.

The three men were among 11 people arrested this month in Yorkshire and London by counter-terrorism police, who used provisions of a new law that allows suspects in espionage and national security cases to be detained without a warrant. The other eight detainees were released without charge.

The hearing took place at the same time that the prime minister Rishi Sunak gave a speech in which he pointed out that the United Kingdom faces an increasingly dangerous future due to threats of a “axis of authoritarian states”, such as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. Tensions with China soared last year after a parliamentary investigator was detained on suspicion of spying for Beijing, an accusation Chinese authorities called “evil slander.”

Chung Biu Yuen (REUTERS/Toby Melville)

The British government passed a new national security law last year that grants additional powers to the police to combat foreign espionage. The government said the law was necessary to combat the “ever-evolving” threat of foreign interference and that it responds to “the threat of hostile activity from countries attacking the UK’s democracy, economy and values”.

“Our commitment to defending the rights and freedoms we hold dear is absolute,” Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said on X, formerly Twitter. “We will do whatever it takes to protect our national security.”

The arrests were made on May 1 and 2 and the investigation continues, the Metropolitan Police Service said. The next court appearance for the three suspects is scheduled for May 24 at London’s Central Criminal Court.

Chinese authorities in both the United Kingdom and Hong Kong condemned the charges, maintaining that they were only the latest in a series of “unfounded and defamatory” accusations that the British government has leveled against China.

“The Chinese side firmly rejects and strongly condemns the UK’s fabrication of the so-called case and its unjustified accusation against the (Hong Kong) government, and has made serious representations to the UK side on the matter,” the statement said. Chinese Embassy in London in a statement.

The Hong Kong government demanded that the UK “provide full details” about the allegations and protect the rights of the trade office director.

The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London represents the interests of the semi-autonomous Chinese city in the United Kingdom, Russia, Scandinavia and the Baltic States.

(With information from AP)

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