A British human rights lawyer has left Hong Kong after being ordered to meet with the city-state’s National Security police.
British barrister Paul Harris, the former head of the Hong Kong Bar Association, got on a flight to Turkey, after attending an interview with Hong Kong police officers over alleged violations of Hong Kong’s national security law.
Harris had been summoned to an interview, to explain acts that had 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 seccession from the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
The laws, which were introduced in response to the pro-democracy protests that swept Hong Kong in 2019, also ban collusion with foreign organisations and give police sweeping new powers.
A police source told the SCMP that Harris had been called in to “assist with an investigation,” but was allowed to leave, after giving a statement under caution to the police.
Harris’ decision to leave Hong Kong comes after he stood down from Hong Kong’s Bar Association in January. During his time as head of the body, the British barrister faced criticism from Hong Kong and Beijing officials for taking an “anti-China” stance.
Harris had previously commented on jail terms handed out to pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and been critical of Hong Kong’s national security laws.