Home » 3 charged in Britain for working for Hong Kong intelligence released on bail – UPI.com

3 charged in Britain for working for Hong Kong intelligence released on bail – UPI.com

The manager of Hong Kong’s de facto embassy in London, a Border Force officer and a Home Office immigration official are free on strict bail conditions after appearing in court on charges of working for Hong Kong intelligence and foreign interference. File Photo by Neil Hall/EPA-EFE

May 14 (UPI) — Three people charged in Britain for working for Hong Kong intelligence were released on strict bail conditions after appearing in court.

The three, identified as Chi Leung Wai, 38, a border official at Heathrow Airport, Matthew Trickett, 37, an immigration enforcement officer and Chung Biu Yuen, 63, the office manager of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office were arrested after allegedly trying to break into the home of a Hong Kong dissident in Pontefract in West Yorkshire on May 1.

Dual British-Hong Kong national Wai is also a special constable with the City of London Police while Trickett served as a commando in the Royal Marines.

District Judge Louisa Cieciora on Monday ordered the three to surrender their passports, observe a strict 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, report weekly to police and to make available for inspection their computers, phones and other smart devices.

They are due back in court May 24.

The identity of their target is unclear but the South China Morning Post reported that exiled Hong Kong student leader Nathan Law Kwun-chung, who was granted political asylum in Britain in 2020 after Beijing enacted a tough new national security law, was a likely candidate.

He is among eight exiled activists for whom Hong Kong police are offering a $127,700 reward for information leading to their arrest for alleged breaches of the national security law.

Security Minister Tom Tugendhat called the National Security Act 2023 under which Wai, Trickett and Yuen are charged, a “game changer” enabling Britain to tackle overseas intelligence services and hostile forces.

“We will not tolerate attempts to threaten, harass or silence people in the U.K. Our commitment to defending the rights and freedoms we hold dear is absolute. We will continue to put protecting the British people and our national security first.”

Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the incident was a wake-up call that demonstrated it was time for China to be designated “a hostile state.”

Her call was echoed by senior Conservative MP and long-time China critic Bob Seely citing what he said was “a significant uptick in espionage operations from both Russia and China, as well as subversive work from Iran too.”

The Home Office ordered an urgent review of Border Force and Immigration Enforcement recruitment vetting and supervision, according to the Daily Telegraph.

The case sparked a diplomatic row when it emerged Yuen is a university alumnus of Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee, with Lee confirming the pair — both former Hong Kong Police officers — had been photographed together.

Lee on Tuesday demanded full transparency from British authorities on the arrests accusing them of fabricating the case and making unjustified allegations against Hong Kong authorities.

Beijing also reacted with fury with its embassy in London making stringent representations to the Foreign Office demanding Britain halt its “anti-China political manipulation” and guarantee the legitimate rights and interests of its citizens in Britain.

“We strongly reject and condemn the U.K.’s unwarranted accusation against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government,” the embassy said in a statement.

“For some time now, the U.K. has staged a series of accusations against China, including those on ‘China spies’ and cyber attacks. All those accusations are groundless and slanderous.

“The British side has also wantonly harassed, arrested and detained Chinese citizens in the U.K. under the pretext of judicial and national security. This constitutes a grave provocation against China and severely contravenes the basic norms governing international relations.”

The statement goes on to warn Britain not to go “further down the wrong path of jeopardizing China-U.K. relations” and refrain from “meddling” in the affairs of its former colony, which it handed back to China in 1997 after 156 years, and “trampling on the rule of law by harboring wanted criminals.”