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‘Torture’ claim by ex-staff member of UK consulate in Hong Kong

A former employee of the British consulate in Hong Kong has claimed Chinese police tortured him during a two-week detention in August to extract information about the territory’s protesters and UK diplomats.

In a statement published on Facebook on Wednesday, Cheng Man Kit, also known as Simon Cheng, claimed he was strapped in a spreadeagled position for hours, beaten, deprived of sleep, blindfolded and hooded during lengthy interrogations in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen after Chinese police detained him while he was attempting to return to Hong Kong.

Mr Cheng also said he heard what he believed to be the interrogation of other participants in Hong Kong protests at the mainland Chinese detention centre where he was held.

The detailed description is set to heighten tension between China and the UK over the case and fuel fears over the fate of those protesters who have been arrested.

At the time of his detention, Mr Cheng was a local employee of Scottish Development International, Scotland’s inward investment agency, at the British consulate in Hong Kong. In his free time, he says he participated in peaceful demonstrations in Hong Kong. Chinese police detained him on the evening of August 8 at Hong Kong West Kowloon railway station when trying to return home after a one-day business trip to Shenzhen.

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“I was asked three types of question: 1) The UK role in the Hong Kong ‘riots’; 2) my role in the ‘riots’; and 3) my relations with mainlanders who joined the ‘riots’,” Mr Cheng wrote in his statement.

He said the Chinese interrogators “firmly believe the UK is one of the foreign powers to meddle with the Hong Kong protests; the protest itself is well organised and not truly leaderless; and I was suspected of being a mastermind and British proxy to incite and organise the protests in Hong Kong”.

He added that they also suspected he was a core member of a “valour” group involved in violent protests and that he was trying to bring a “colour revolution” to mainland China.

According to Mr Cheng’s account, Chinese secret police obtained details about the British consulate’s internal workings, instructions to staff about monitoring the Hong Kong protests, as well as information about Hong Kong and mainland Chinese participants in the protests from the email and social media accounts on his smartphone.

Mr Cheng said he was ordered to write down the names of anyone he recognised in a pile of photographs and categorise them as peaceful or “valorous” protesters. He also identified British diplomats in a Telegram group whom he believed to have a military or security background.

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