Hong Kong denies Australia access to dual citizen facing life imprisonment under national security law

Australian consular officials have reportedly been barred from accessing a Hong Kong-born Australian man detained under the city’s national security law.

The man, who is speculated to be 42-year-old political activist Gordon Ng, was arrested on Jan. 6, 2021, for allegedly “conspiring to subvert state power,” according to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). He was released on bail the following day but was again apprehended on March 1 for subversion.

Consular officials have attended hearings, since the man’s initial arrest; however, they have been repeatedly denied access to him, since Hong Kong — a special administrative region (SAR) of China — no longer recognizes dual citizenship, reported the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

“We have been denied consular access despite multiple attempts because the individual is deemed to be a Chinese citizen under China's citizenship laws, which do not recognize dual nationality,” a DFAT spokesperson told ABC.

Last February, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam declared that the city does not recognize dual citizens and that only foreign nationals are entitled to consular assistance. The news prompted Australia and the U.K. to change their travel advice for the city, according to the South China Morning Post.

Enacted on June 30, 2020, the national security law was enacted following pro-democracy protests throughout Hong Kong that took place the year before. China’s Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) unanimously passed the legislation, bypassing Hong Kong authorities.

The man referenced by DFAT has now spent 11 months behind bars. If convicted, he faces a jail sentence ranging from 10 years to life.

South Australian Sen. Rex Patrick first asked about the case in October, according to the Guardian. He said he had “grave concerns” for the man and that his arrest “highlights the plight of the more than 100 Hongkongers that have been arrested and charged since the CCP repression of Hong Kong began.”

A spokesman of Hong Kong's Security Bureau declined to provide further details on the case, according to ABC; however, he stressed that China does not recognize dual citizenship and that “enacting legislation to safeguard national security is a common state policy.”

DFAT, for its part, remains “in regular contact” with the man’s lawyers and will “continue to attend future court hearings,” its spokesperson said.

Featured Image via ABC News

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