HONG KONG (Reuters) – Relatives of some of the 12 Hong Kong activists arrested by Chinese authorities at sea more than six weeks ago as they tried to flee by boat to Taiwan have accused the Hong Kong government of lying over the circumstances surrounding their capture.
The 12, who are accused of crimes tied to anti-government protests in Hong Kong last year, are being held in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen after mainland authorities intercepted their boat and accused them of illegal border crossing.
China’s foreign ministry has called them “separatists”.
The families said they had obtained the flight path of a Hong Kong government plane showing it was surveilling the boat the 12 were in, which led them to suspect local authorities helped Chinese officials.
They did not say how they obtained the data.
“Explain whether the police have deployed fixed-wing aircraft for aerial surveillance; give a full account of the conspiracy to send the 12 Hong Kongers to China,” the group said in a statement on Thursday.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said this week she would not comment on the “actual operational details except to reinforce … that the police has absolutely no role to play in this particular case.”
The father of detainee Cheng Tsz-ho, 18, held up a placard outside Government Flying Service headquarters that read: “Government lied, return my son back to me.”
The wife of detainee Wong Wai-yin, 30, displayed a sign that said: “Give me the truth, release my husband.”
The detainees case has grabbed international headlines and human rights groups have raised concerns. The families say the detainees have been denied access to independent lawyers.
More than a dozen police stood guard as the relatives staged a peaceful protest, with live television footage showing some being stopped and searched by officers.
The Hong Kong government has said it cannot interfere on the detainees’ behalf and they must face legal proceedings in China before they can come home, though it says it is willing to provide “feasible” assistance to their families.
(Reporting By Jessie Pang; Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
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