China indicts 10 Hong Kong residents over attempt to flee

HONG KONG (AP) — Chinese prosecutors on Wednesday announced the indictment of 10 people from Hong Kong over an attempt to flee the city amid a crackdown on opposition political activity.

The Yantian district prosecutor’s office in the city of Shenzhen just across the border from Hong Kong said on its microblog that 10 of the suspects were charged with illegally crossing the border while two were also charged with organizing the attempted journey.

Two others are minors and a decision on how to handle their cases will be made at a later time, the office said. Relatives of the 12 say they have been prevented from hiring their own lawyers and that the accusations against them are politically motivated.

The 12 were arrested at sea in August while they were apparently attempting to flee to Taiwan after a tough national security law took effect in Hong Kong.

They were picked up after entering mainland Chinese waters for crossing the maritime border without permission. At least some took part in anti-government protests in 2019 and were facing charges in Hong Kong.

While Hong Kong is part of China, travelers must still pass through immigration when going to and from the mainland. Since the imposition of the national security law in June, a number of government critics have sought refuge abroad, many in Taiwan, a self-governing democracy that has no formal ties with China’s authoritarian Communist government.

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