Beijing [China], May 10 (ANI): A lawyer in mainland China, who was deregistered after taking up the case of one of the Hong Kong fugitives captured while trying to flee to Taiwan, has been barred from leaving the country to the United States on national security grounds.
Lu Siwei, who was going to attend an American fellowship programme, was delisted by mainland provincial judicial authorities after handling cases related to the 12 fugitives who were arrested for attempting to escape prosecution over their roles in Hong Kong's anti-government protests, South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.
Border security guards on Saturday stopped Lu at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport as he was about to board the Delta Air Lines' DL288 flight for Seattle, he told SCMP. "They told me I could not leave," he said.
The lawyer said that he was eventually let go, but the authorities prevented him from using his mobile phone for two hours. He was meant to catch the US-bound flight after being invited to attend the Humphrey Programme, a 10-month academic scheme, as a visiting fellow.
Lu further said that he had been earlier barred from leaving the mainland when he wanted to attend a legal forum in Hong Kong last year.
He believes his involvement in the fugitives' case might have triggered mainland authorities to extend the travel ban to prevent him from attending the academic programme.
His license was also revoked earlier this year after he took up the case of the fugitives, most of whom were subsequently charged with offences relating to illegal crossing and jailed, SCMP reported.
In January, Sichuan's judicial authorities revoked Lu's licence, finding that he had "repeatedly made inappropriate remarks on the internet" for a long period of time.
The lawyer maintains that he was not worried about further action from Chinese officials. "If they would like to have me arrested, they would have done so a long time ago," he said.
However, he did mention that the loss of his professional licence had taken a toll on him as he barely managed to feed himself.
Beijing, which was perturbed by violent anti-government protests in 2019, imposed the national security law to take action against those who protested against the government. Subversion was made a criminally punishable offence in Hong Kong under the Beijing-drafted national security law.
Last month, Hong Kong Police arrested over 10,200 people in connection with the anti-government protests in the last 20 months, signalling the extent of the crackdown launched by Beijing-backed authorities to silence dissenters.
Over 600 people have already been convicted, according to SCMP. During that period, 26 serving civil servants were arrested or charged over their suspected involvement in the social unrest.
The protests erupted in June 2019 over the now-withdrawn extradition bill. The bill was deemed as an example of increasing Chinese influence in Hong Kong. (ANI)