UK charges three with working for Hong Kong intelligence

Suspects accused of violating National Security Act as cases against Chinese and Russian spies mount across Europe.

Police officers stand guard as new British Prime Minister Liz Truss's car arrives at Downing Street, in London, Britain September 6, 2022. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
London's Metropolitan Police said the investigation is ongoing [File: Peter Nicholls/Reuters]

The British police have charged three men with assisting Hong Kong’s foreign intelligence service.

The men were detained alongside several others during a series of raids across the United Kingdom last week, the police said on Monday. The operation is the latest in a spate of action against suspected Russian and Chinese spies across Europe.

They were set to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday to face charges filed under the National Security Act, passed last year to introduce new measures against espionage threats from foreign states.

“While these offences are concerning, I want to reassure the public that we do not believe there to be any wider threat to them,” Commander Dominic Murphy, head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, said in a statement.

The London police said 11 people had been detained earlier this month, most of them from Yorkshire, in northern England.

Those who were charged were Chi Leung Wai, 38, Matthew Trickett, 37, and Chung Biu Yuen, 63, all from southeast England.

Seven other men and one woman were not charged and were later released from custody.

Police said the investigation was ongoing, without providing any other details on the charges.

Spate of spying charges

The arrests come as concerns mount across Europe over intelligence operations linked to China and Russia.

The UK announced in late April the arrest of two people suspected of providing “prejudicial information” to Beijing.

The same day, the German police reported that they had charged three citizens with handing technologies with potential military purposes to Chinese intelligence, with whom they have been accused of working since at least June 2022.

The same month, Germany arrested an aide to a far-right member of the European Parliament on suspicion of spying for China.

The British police noted on Monday that the charges against the trio over their work for Hong Kong intelligence are not linked to an ongoing investigation involving Russia, which was also conducted under the National Security Act.

The British government said last Wednesday that it was expelling a Russian defence attache for spying, amid several measures targeting Moscow’s intelligence-gathering operations in the UK.

Home Secretary James Cleverly said the measures were aimed at the “reckless and dangerous activities of the Russian government across Europe”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies