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In a first, Hong Kong bans pro-independence political party

In this Aug. 14, 2018, photo, Andy Chan, founder of the Hong Kong National Party, speaks during a luncheon at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong. (Paul Yeung/Pool Photo via AP)

HONG KONG (AP) -- Authorities in Hong Kong have taken an unprecedented step against separatist voices by banning a political party that advocates independence for the southern Chinese territory on national security grounds.

Hong Kong's secretary for security, John Lee, announced Monday that the Hong Kong National Party will be prohibited from operation.

The notice did not provide further details but Hong Kong's security bureau had previously said in a letter to the National Party's leader that the party should be dissolved "in the interests of national security or public safety, public order or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others."

That letter had cited a national security law that has not been invoked since 1997.

The party says it was founded in response to frustration about Beijing's treatment of Hong Kong.

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