Former lawmaker Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang has left Hong Kong for the United States, where he is seeking asylum.
Haven Assistance, a group formed by activists in exile, revealed on Friday evening that Leung had departed for the US on November 30 after facing “profound political persecution” in Hong Kong.
“Mr Leung sees the asylum as a new starting point for Hong Kong’s democratic cause,” the group said in a statement on Facebook.
“Currently Mr Leung has no issues with his health, and his well-being is basically being taken care of,” the statement added, noting he would hold an online press conference on Saturday.
Leung, 34, was among six lawmakers disqualified by a court over improper oath-taking during a swearing-in ceremony in 2016 for newly-elected legislators.
A month after the ceremony, on November 2, Leung and fellow disqualified lawmaker Yau Wai-ching stormed a council meeting in an attempt to retake their oaths. Leung was jailed for four weeks over the incident on charges of taking part in an unlawful assembly, and served his time in September.
In an interview with Reuters, Leung said the United States should roll out punitive sanctions against mainland China by targeting the city’s financial sector, which the activist characterised as the nation’s cash cow. The hope, he said, was that Beijing would come back to the negotiating table to answer for its crackdown on the financial hub.
The ousted legislator said he also hoped to meet advisers of President-elect Joe Biden to urge him to ramp up pressure on China, which imposed a national security law on the city in June.
“There’s a stronger way to respond to China’s repression: Hong Kong’s financial system, which is one of the ATMs of China right now – if we can do something on this, it will be much more powerful,” Leung said from Washington.
Former opposition lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung similarly fled Hong Kong earlier this month and announced he was going into self-imposed exile in Britain. Hui was out on bail awaiting trial over charges stemming from last year’s anti-government protests.
Hui, formerly of the Democratic Party, resigned along with the rest of his fellow pan-democratic lawmakers last month in protest against Beijing’s move to oust four of their peers.
Haven Assistance’s co-founders are former detained British consulate employee Simon Cheng Man-kit, prominent student activist Brian Leung Kai-ping, kidnapped bookseller Lam Wing-kee and pro-independence activist Ray Wong Toi-yeung, who was granted political asylum by Berlin in 2018.
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