China Charges H.K. Activists Over Attempted Flight to Taiwan

China has charged Hong Kong activists detained for more than three months over their attempt to flee to Taiwan.

Two people were charged with organizing an illegal border crossing and another eight with participating in an illegal crossing, prosecutors in Shenzhen’s Yantian district said on an official WeChat account Wednesday. Two minors will face a closed-door hearing, the statement said.

The charge of organizing an illegal border crossing can be punished by two to seven years in prison under Chinese criminal law, though some cases can result in life terms. The other charge is punishable by a jail term of less than a year.

The activists were captured Aug. 23 by coast guard authorities from the southern province of Guangdong as they attempted to flee to democratically ruled Taiwan by speedboat. They range in age from 16 to 33 and include 11 men and one woman.

Before they fled, 10 had been charged separately by Hong Kong authorities and released on bail for their involvement in a wave of anti-government protests, including charges of manufacturing or possessing explosives and assaulting policemen. One was also arrested under sweeping national security legislation that China imposed on the city in June.

All but one had been barred from leaving Hong Kong before departing for Taiwan, Hong Kong Security Secretary John Lee said on Sept. 14.

The new security legislation imposed by Beijing in June forbids subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers, and gives Hong Kong authorities the ability to transfer cases to mainland courts.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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