Hong Kong pro-independence activist alleges coercion in startling revelation

Former Hong Kong pro-independence activist Tony Chung alleges coercion into becoming an informant.

In a startling revelation, Tony Chung, the former leader of a Hong Kong pro-independence group, claimed that he received up to HK$3,000 per meeting from security officers after his release from jail in June. Chung, who fled to Britain and sought political asylum, asserts that he was coerced into becoming an informant. His allegations include financial transactions with national security officers, closely monitored activities post-release and signing a document related to the National Security Law.

Chung, sentenced to 43 months of prison in November 2021 for attempting to separate Hong Kong from China and money laundering, pleaded guilty to charges under the sweeping national security law imposed by China in 2020. Denied bail, he now alleges that he accepted cash payments as an informant due to a lack of choice. The financial transactions, if true, were conducted in cash, leaving no trace in bank documentation.

The former activist claims that he provided insignificant information to authorities. Chung revealed that the officers demanded that he sign a document related to the National Security Law, forbidding disclosure of their communication and the seeking of legal advice. He complied with the demand.

The Hong Kong Correctional Services Department and Security Bureau have not responded to requests for comment on Chung’s allegations. Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry warned that those attempting to evade legal responsibility would be pursued, and the Hong Kong Correctional Services Department declared intentions to place Chung on a “wanted list.”

The backdrop to these events is the imposition of the national security law on Hong Kong in 2020, following months of anti-government protests. The law carries severe penalties for acts such as subversion, secession, and collusion with foreign forces.

Questions surrounding the truthfulness of Chung’s claims remain. The Hong Kong Police Public Relations Branch, in response to queries, emphasised the National Security Department’s responsibility for intelligence collection and analysis but did not address Chung’s specific allegation of acting as an informant.

Chung’s case adds another layer to the complex dynamics between pro-independence activists and authorities in Hong Kong, highlighting the challenges and consequences faced by individuals caught in the crossfire of geopolitical tensions and domestic legislation.