A Financial Times Asia editor was denied entry into Hong Kong a month after he was forced to leave the semi-autonomous Chinese city when the government refused to renew his work visa.
British journalist Victor Mallet, who was trying to enter on a tourist visa, was turned away at the border after several hours of questioning by immigration officers, the Financial Times reported late on Thursday.
Mallet was denied a work visa renewal in October without explanation, although it is widely believed to have been punishment for chairing a talk with a pro-independence activist at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) in August.
“We have not received an explanation for the recent rejection of Victor Mallet’s work visa and have appealed against the decision,” FT said.
In a letter to Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam, 17 of the press club’s former presidents renewed calls on Thursday for an official explanation as to why Mallet was denied the work visa.
The group said it was “deeply concerned with this action, taken with no stated or apparent legal basis” in the first incident of its kind against a journalist since Hong Kong returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.
They also said “absent any public explanation from Hong Kong authorities, we can only surmise this unprecedented action was official retribution against the FCC” for hosting the activist.
17 former presidents of the Foreign Correspondents Club have sent a letter to HK Chief Executive Carrie Lam, asking for a public explanation for the visa denial of Financial Times Asia news editor Victor Mallet, & asking if the SAR government will continue to respect free speech. pic.twitter.com/PKYmDhZpO3
— Keith Richburg (@keithrichburg) November 8, 2018
Lam, who is appointed by a pro-Beijing committee, said the decision had been handed down by immigration authorities.
Hong Kong’s immigration department has stated it does not comment on individual cases.
Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have said the notion of independence violates the principle of “one country, two systems”.
Critics say Hong Kong’s rights landscape has deteriorated in recent years amid a spate of controversies, including the jailing of young activists and disqualifications of pro-democracy members of the legislature.
Exiled Chinese author Ma Jian said on Twitter on Thursday that a talk he was scheduled to give as part of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival had been abruptly cancelled.
“This is not the way a civilised society would behave,” Ma told FT.
“I’m a novelist, not an activist, and am attending the Festival to discuss my new novel, China Dream. My ‘politics’ are simple: I believe in free thought and free speech. Without them, life has no meaning.”