Police in Hong Kong have ordered the arrest of several pro-democracy activists living in exile on suspicion of violating a China-imposed national security law, according to Chinese state media.
CCTV said late on Friday that the six are wanted on suspicion of secession or colluding with foreign forces, crimes that the new law punishes with up to life in prison.
It named them as Nathan Law, Wayne Chan Ka-kui, Honcques Laus, Simon Cheng and Ray Wong Toi-yeung. Samuel Chu, an American citizen living in the United States, was also on the list.
Hong Kong police declined to comment. But if confirmed, it would be the first time that the city’s police have used the extraterritorial power in the new law to go after activists who are not in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
Chu, speaking to Al Jazeera from the US city of Los Angeles, described warrant for his arrest as “outrageous” and said it showed “how desperate and how scared” China is of international pressure.
“It’s such an outlandish claim that they somehow have jurisdiction over an American citizen lobbying the American government,” said Chu, who runs the Washington DC-based advocacy group, Hong Kong Democracy Council.
“The kind of global bullying and censorship, not only of citizens of other countries, but businesses … its starting to create a united frontline, globally, pushing back,” Chu said, adding: “Today’s move, particularly, shows they are scared of losing control. They know that if Hong Kong can continue to be a place of resistance, it threatens their control all over the mainland.”
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Nathan Law, a former Hong Kong legislator who is currently in the United Kingdom, called the charges “trumped up” and said his only crime was that he “loves Hong Kong “too much”.
He said on Facebook the “wanted bulletins”, recent arrests, and mass disqualifications of pro-democracy activists from a now-delayed election are “indications of our need to remain active on the global stage”.
“That Hong Kong has no place for even such moderate views like ours underscores the absurdity of Chinese Communist rule.”
China imposed the contentious law on its freest city on June 30, circumventing the local legislature, in a move condemned by some Western governments, rights groups and activists in the territory.
Several countries have since suspended their extradition treaties with Hong Kong, including UK, Australia, and most recently Germany, as a possible safeguard against attempts to use the national security laws to round up activists abroad.
“We have repeatedly made our expectation clear that China lives up to its legal responsibilities under international law,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Friday just after Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam postponed the city’s legislative election by a year.
Several countries have also offered the people of Hong Kong an expedited path to full citizenship
Critics of the law fear it will crush freedoms in a city that is a world financial hub, prompting some to flee overseas. But supporters say the security legislation is needed to restore stability and order to the former British colony after a year of sometimes violent anti-government protests.
In just a month since the new security law came into effect, a dozen leading pro-democracy campaigners have been disqualified from running in legislative elections and four students have been arrested on suspicion of “inciting succession” with social media posts.
Al Jazeera and news agencies