Hong Konger involved in 'following' democracy activists deported

10/25/2020 04:46 PM
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Oct. 25, 2020
Oct. 25, 2020

Taipei, Oct. 25 (CNA) A Hong Konger who employed private investigators to follow and photograph Hong Kong activists in Taiwan was deported on Sunday after his residency permit was revoked by the National Immigration Agency (NIA).

In a statement posted on its website, the NIA said Hong Kong native Lee Pun-ho (李彬豪) had violated the terms of his residency permit in Taiwan and was therefore deported, without elaborating on the specifics of Lee's case.

Lee will be barred from entering Taiwan for a certain period, the NIA said, though it did not specify how long the period would last.

According to local news outlets, Lee first came to Taiwan in 2015 as a student and began working in Taiwan in 2019.

He was involved in a case that occurred in January 2019, when three Hong Kong pro-independence activists, including former Student Localism convener Tony Chung (鍾翰林), visited Taiwan.

During their visit, the activists met with a reporter surnamed Su (蘇) from pro-independence Taiwanese newspaper Liberty Times and Yang Yueh-ching (楊月清), the head of an anti-communism group in Taiwan. Their meeting was photographed and later published in the pro-Beijing newspapers Wen Wei Po and Ta Kung Po.

The reports described Su and Yang as "Taiwan independence activists" and "emissaries of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文)."

In response, Su and Yang pressed charges against Lee for "offenses against privacy" at the Taipei District Prosecutors Office, which launched an investigation into the case.

Prosecutors found that the people who trailed and photographed the Hong Kong activists were all employees of Unity Credit Investigation Co., a Taiwanese company that provides private investigation services, according to local media reports.

Unity Credit's CEO told prosecutors the company had been hired to do so by Lee for NT$20,000 (US$691.8) a day.

Lee, meanwhile, said during questioning that he was asked by a private investigation firm in Hong Kong to contract the Taiwanese company and that he was not compensated for his efforts.

On Thursday, the Taipei District Prosecutors Office announced that it would not press charges against Lee and Unity Credit, as the photographs taken were all in public spaces and did not meet the standard for invasion of privacy.

It did say, however, that Lee had received a permit to work in Taiwan but was engaging in "intelligence gathering" activities that did not match the stated purpose of his permit.

(By Huang Li-yun and Chiang Yi-ching)

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