HONG KONG (Reuters) – A Hong Kong student protester who was shot by police during last year’s anti-government demonstrations and later charged with rioting and assaulting officers is in exile in an undisclosed location, an advocacy group said on Tuesday.
Tsang Chi-kin, 19, was shot and wounded on Oct. 1, 2019, during protests on China’s national day, the first of two people who police shot during months of pro-democracy protests in the former British colony.
Tsang did not show up for a court hearing earlier on Tuesday and a British-based, anti-China advocacy group, Friends of Hong Kong, said he and some fellow protesters had left the city.
“Kin … is now formally declaring that they are in exile,” the group said in a statement. It did not say how he had left or where he was.
At his previous court appearance in October, Tsang said he intended to plead guilty to the charges against him.
But he also feared being investigated for breaking a new national security law that punishes colluding with foreign forces.
That concern stemmed from a failed bid to seek asylum at the U.S. consulate together with some of his friends in October this year, the group said.
The U.S. consulate said at the time, without naming Tsang or giving any details, U.S. policy worldwide was that asylum could only be requested upon arrival on American soil.
China imposed the sweeping security law on semi-autonomous Hong Kong in June. The law, along with coronavirus restrictions on group gatherings, effectively ended the protests.
The group said Tsang’s 15-year-old girlfriend suspected she was also being investigated by Hong Kong authorities and she was in Britain, settling down and looking to resume her studies.
“Kin and his friends do not worry about safety,” the group said.
(Reporting by Jessie Pang; Writing by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Robert Birsel)