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Report: Hong Kong turns away China activists

/ Source: The Associated Press

Hong Kong deported three Chinese pro-democracy activists based in the United States after denying them entry to the territory, a local lawmaker said Thursday.

There was no official confirmation of the deportations, though an official said the government doesn't want people to come to Hong Kong and "damage the dignity" of the Olympic Games.

Yang Jianli, Wang Min and Zhou Jian arrived Wednesday at Hong Kong airport ahead of a conference in Taiwan but weren't allowed to enter, opposition lawmaker Albert Ho told The Associated Press. Ho said immigration authorities didn't explain why they denied the activists entry.

Ho said he wasn't sure if the activists had planned to protest in Hong Kong, which is hosting the Olympic equestrian events.

"They may have been planning to take action related to the Olympics," Ho said.

Zhou was deported to the United States, Wang to Taiwan and Yang was being sent to New York via Tokyo, Ho said.

Yang, a Chinese citizen with a U.S. green card, only returned to the United States last year after serving a five-year prison term in China on charges of spying for Taiwan and entering the country illegally.

Wang is a U.S. citizen, which should entitle him to 90 days' visa-free access to Hong Kong. Ho said he wasn't clear on Zhou's citizenship.

The trio were allowed to enter Hong Kong in the past, Ho said.

Tightening controls
Hong Kong, a former British colony now ruled by China, is supposed to guarantee Western-style civil liberties such as freedom of expression, but the government has apparently tightened controls because of the Olympics.

On Friday, activists said Hong Kong immigration officials at the airport detained two ethnic Chinese pro-democracy activists en route to Japan for a conference from Frankfurt, Germany.

In May, Hong Kong immigration officials turned back pro-Tibet activists who flew into the territory before its leg of the Olympic torch relay. Pro-democracy lawmakers also complained that police officers removed a pro-Tibet protester during the relay.

At a press conference Thursday, Hong Kong Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee declined to comment directly on the latest reported deportations.

Lee said the government values freedom of speech but warned potential protesters against disrupting the equestrian event. He noted that the government has set up areas near competition venues for protests.

"I think all Chinese, including the Chinese in Hong Kong, hope the Olympics are a success, so our policy it that we don't want to see people come to Hong Kong to damage the dignity of the Olympics and disrupt any Olympic events," Lee said.

Separately, about two dozen members of the Falun Gong spiritual group peacefully protested their persecution in China at the Hong Kong government headquarters on Thursday.

Banned in China in 1999 as an "evil cult" that threatened stability, Falun Gong remains in Hong Kong. The group claims the Chinese government has illegally detained more than 8,000 of its members since the ban.