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4 Hong Kong activists fail in asylum bid at US consulate: report

In this Sept. 8, 2019 file photo, a demonstrator clad in a Hong Kong flag waves an American flag near the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong. (Kyodo)

HONG KONG (Kyodo) -- Four Hong Kong activists entered the U.S. Consulate General on Tuesday seeking asylum, but appear to have been rejected, the South China Morning Post reported.

    The Hong Kong-based English-language newspaper said in its electronic edition that the four were seen "running up Garden Road and talking to security guards before they were allowed into the compound," adding that it "understands that the four...were later rejected."

    "Their expulsion could not be officially confirmed," it added.

    A source familiar with the situation was quoted as saying that the group was seeking asylum, and at least one faces charges connected to last year's anti-government protests.

    Asked for a comment by Kyodo News, the U.S. consulate said it had nothing to say for the time being.

    More than 10,000 people have been arrested in relation to the monthslong anti-government protests since June last year, among which 2,266 have been charged, police figures show.

    Also Tuesday, three other activists were arrested by police for alleged breaches of the new national security law, including Tony Chung, former leader of pro-independence group Studentlocalism, who was reportedly caught on his way to seek asylum at the U.S. consulate, according to local media reports.

    The police said in a statement that two men and a woman, aged between 17 and 21, have been arrested for posting messages on social media since September that incited secession, in breach of Article 21 of the National Security Law, and are being detained for questioning.

    More arrests could be made, it said. The police public relations branch would not confirm the identities of the trio.

    Chung, 19, was attempting to seek asylum at the U.S. diplomatic office when he was taken away from a coffee shop across the street by a handful of officers from the police's National Security Department, newly set up to handle related crimes, according to advocacy group Friends of Hong Kong that is assisting him, local media reported.

    Two others, Yanni Ho and William Chan, were also arrested by police, according to Studentlocalism, which disbanded its local chapter on the day the sweeping anti-subversion law was imposed.

    The trio and another member, Ho Nok-hang, were previously arrested in July for alleged secession and inciting secession.

    They were released on bail and must report to the police regularly.

    The law, promulgated in Hong Kong at the end of June, outlaws acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. It also allows suspects to be transferred to mainland China for prosecution.

    Nearly 30 people have been arrested for allegedly breaching the law since it took effect, according to the police.

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