UK outraged at 'torture' of former HK consulate employee

November 20, 2019 16:26
Simon Cheng told BBC in an interview that he was tortured in China and accused of inciting political unrest in Hong Kong. Photo: BBC News video screenshot

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Wednesday condemned China’s treatment of a former employee of Britain’s Hong Kong consulate who told a newspaper Chinese secret police beat him as they sought information about pro-democracy protests in the former British colony.

Simon Cheng, a Hong Kong citizen who worked for the British mission’s business development team when he was detained, told the Wall Street Journal he was questioned repeatedly about the role his interrogators presumed Britain was playing in fomenting anti-government unrest in the city.

Secret police beat him, deprived him of sleep and chained him as they pressed him for information, the Journal said.

In fear, Cheng said he disclosed the passwords for his phone and social media accounts, named two British consular officials he thought had military and intelligence backgrounds, and gave details about some people involved in the protest.

“Simon Cheng was a valued member of our team. We were shocked and appalled by the mistreatment he suffered while in Chinese detention, which amounts to torture,” Raab said, according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

“I summoned the Chinese Ambassador to express our outrage at the brutal and disgraceful treatment of Simon in violation of China’s international obligations. I have made clear we expect the Chinese authorities to investigate and hold those responsible to account.”

In August, Cheng was reported missing by his family after he failed to return from a visit to Shenzhen.

The Chinese foreign ministry later said Cheng had been detained for 15 days by Shenzhen police for violating public security management regulations, and insisted that Britain should not interfere in Chinese internal affairs as Cheng is a Chinese citizen.

State media had suggested that Cheng was detained for soliciting a prostitute.

But in an interview with BBC, Cheng said he was tortured in China and accused of inciting political unrest in Hong Kong.

"I was shackled, blindfolded and hooded," the 29-year-old told the British broadcaster.

Cheng said that in June, he volunteered to monitor the pro-democracy protests in the city, and was paid overtime "to collect information about the status of the protests", which is what embassies normally do as part of their work.

He stressed that his work was simply to observe and not to direct the events in any way. With Reuters