British human rights lawyer flees Hong Kong after meeting with national security police

Thursday 03 March 2022 15:48

A British human rights lawyer has left Hong Kong after being ordered to meet with the city-state’s national security police.

British lawyer Paul Harris, former head of the Hong Kong Bar Association, flew to Turkey, after attending an interview with Hong Kong police officers over alleged breaches of national security law from Hong Kong.

Harris had been called for an interview to explain actions that allegedly violated Hong Kong’s national security laws, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Passed in June 2020, Hong Kong’s national security laws make it a crime to openly promote Hong Kong’s secession from the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

The laws, which were introduced in response to pro-democracy protests that swept Hong Kong in 2019, also ban collusion with foreign organizations and give police sweeping new powers.

A police source told SCMP that Harris was called in to “help with an investigation” but was allowed to leave, after giving a bail statement to police.

Harris’ decision to leave Hong Kong comes after he resigned from the Hong Kong Bar Association in January. During his tenure as head of the body, the British lawyer was criticized by officials in Hong Kong and Beijing for taking an “anti-China” stance.

Harris had previously commented on prison sentences handed down to pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and criticized Hong Kong’s national security laws.

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