Free Tibet Campaign rep detained and deported from Hong Kong

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Free Tibet Campaign spokesperson, Matt Whitticase, landed this morning in London after being denied entry into Hong Kong on 29 April. The Immigration Department of the Hong Kong Government boarded him onto a flight leaving Hong Kong at 11.30pm local time on 29 April after serving him with a refusal notice. Kate Woznow and Tsering Lama of Students For a Free Tibet were also refused entry into Hong Kong on 29 April and were put on return flights to New York and Chicago respectively.

Whitticase said that he was escorted from the immigration desk at Hong Kong airport to a secure room where he was questioned after arriving on a flight from London at 4.15pm local time. On entering the security room he was forced to surrender the battery to his mobile phone. His passport had been confiscated at the arrivals desk.

Despite being refused entry and having his passport and mobile phone confiscated, Whitticase was offered no reason for his detention. Whitticase told officials from Jardine Airport Services wearing immigration services clothing that he was visiting Hong Kong to visit his father and to meet journalists.

At around 8pm local time Whitticase was served with a Refusal Notice issued by the Immigration Department of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The notice stated that he had been "refused permission to land in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region under section 11 of the Immigration Ordinance” and detained under section 32(1) of the same Ordinance." The notice further stated that Jardine Airport Services Ltd. "is hereby directed under section 24 of the Immigration Ordinance to “remove that person/make arrangements for the removal of that person from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region".

On Sunday 27 April, The South China Morning Post reported that three Danish citizens, planning to protest during the Hong Kong leg of the Olympic Torch Relay, had been denied entry and had been put on return flights. Ambrose Lee, Secretary for Security in Hong Kong, was reported by the same newspaper to have said that "Tibet separatists" would not be allowed in to Hong Kong.

On arriving back in the UK, Whitticase said: "The Hong Kong Government must give a reason for my being denied entry and for my rights to free expression and free movement being suppressed. If I was denied entry for allegedly being a ‘Tibet separatist’ then the Hong Kong Government must define what it means by that term and on what basis it categorises me as a ‘Tibet separatist’. The Hong Kong Government must also state immediately on what legal basis it can deny me entry on the premise of what I might say or do whilst in Hong Kong. And finally, it must say whether the decision to deny me entry was one it took itself, or whether it was lent on by Beijing."

Whitticase, who is a former long-term resident of Hong Kong, is writing to Hong Kong Security Secretary, Ambrose Lee, to seek an official reason for being denied entry. He has spoken to the British Consulate General in Hong which confirmed today that it had arranged a meeting with Ambrose Lee to discuss the reasons for Whitticase's detention.

Matt Whitticase
Press Officer, Free Tibet Campaign

Notes:

For further information please contact Matt Whitticase at matt@freetibet.org
Or call on +44 (0) 207 324 4605/+44 (0)7515 788456