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Portugal monitoring citizen’s HK arrest for sedition

Joseph John Wong Kin Chung, 40, was arrested for social media posts, police say
Cambodia, casinos, Sihanoukville, China, UNODC

The national security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in 2020 have left people fearful of who will be targeted next. (Photo: AFP)

Published: November 09, 2022 06:14 AM GMT
Updated: November 09, 2022 06:30 AM GMT

Portugal is monitoring the situation following the arrest of one of its citizens in Hong Kong allegedly for committing sedition through social media posts, says the European nation’s foreign ministry.

The Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MNE) said that it had “knowledge of the detention of a citizen with a Portuguese passport in Hong Kong” and that it was closely monitoring the situation, according to a statement released on Nov. 7.

“At the moment, the MNE, through the Portuguese Consulate-General in Macau, is collaborating with the Hong Kong authorities to find out more information about this case, as well as informing the family accordingly, from which contact was received,” it stated.

The response came after Hong Kong police arrested Joseph John Wong Kin Chung, 40, on Nov 1, for posts on Twitter, Instagram, and Telegram that the authorities deemed to “incite violence” or “bring hate” to the territory, Macau’s Portuguese-language newspaper, Hoje Macau, reported on Nov 7.

The charges against Chung include actions intended to “bring hatred or contempt or arouse discontent” against Hong Kong’s central authorities and government, incite people to violence and “advise disobedience of law or any other legal order.”

Chung is a professor at the Royal College of Music in the United Kingdom and was arrested a month after arriving in Hong Kong to take care of his mother who suffers from dementia, media reports say.

Earlier, Principal Magistrate Peter Law, one of the city’s handpicked national security judges at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on Nov 3 denied Chung bail on national security grounds.

Law stated that there was not enough reason to believe that Chung "would not return to practicing acts that threaten national security.”

Hong Kong prosecutors had appealed for the case to be taken up after 12 weeks to allow for further investigation of Chung’s three smartphones, laptop, and personal bank account.

Chung will have the option to review his bail request on Nov 11. The case has been adjourned for the next hearing on Jan 26, 2023.

Chung was detained over his allegedly offensive statements and pictures posted on the website of the Hong Kong Independence Party, as well as the group’s accounts on four social media platforms, from Oct 9 to Nov 1 this year.

However, the conditions for obtaining bail is difficult in cases under the National Security Law, which has a more stringent bail threshold.

Sedition is punishable by up to two years imprisonment for a first offense under the Crimes Ordinance. The Court of Final Appeal has defined it as one capable of endangering national security which thus entails tougher punishments.

The sweeping National Security Law has been used widely by the Hong Kong administration to suppress the voice of dissent in the former British colony, which until recently enjoyed a higher degree of autonomy, democracy, and basic freedom under the “one country, two systems” framework.

The Beijing-imposed National Security Law of 2020 has effectively snuffed out a strong pro-democracy movement and dissent as hundreds have been arrested and put on trial for their support of democracy and freedom in Hong Kong.

In October, Protestant Pastor Garry Pang Moon-yuen, 59, was handed down a 10-month jail term for sedition and three months for seditious speech.

Among prominent Catholics facing trial are media tycoon Jimmy Lai and outspoken China critic 90-year-old Cardinal Joseph Zen.

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