Edit 1: Clarifies served prison term, lede
By Shirley Lau
Hong Kong, Mar 24 (EFE).- An American lawyer deported from Hong Kong after serving a prison sentence said Thursday that the territory was a state controlled by the police, adding that rights were not respected.
Samuel Phillip Bickett, who left detention Tuesday after completing part of a four and a half month sentence for assaulting a policeman, said he was banned from the city and immediately escorted to the airport to board a flight back to the United States.
“It has become clear through my arrest, trial, appeal, two imprisonments, and deportation that there is no real concept of ‘rights’ anymore in Hong Kong. The police run the show at the behest of Beijing,” Bickett told EFE on Thursday.
Bickett, a former anti-corruption compliance director at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said the Hong Kong immigration authority denied a request for him to “wind up my affairs and say goodbye to my partner and loved ones.”
He said he was transported from the maximum-security Stanley Prison straight to a detention center before being escorted to a Tuesday flight to Washington D.C. via Turkey.
The American was sentenced in July 2021 by a Hong Kong court for assaulting plainclothes police officer Yu Shu-sang in a scuffle that broke out in a metro station in December 2019. At the time, the city was still convulsed by a months-long anti-government protest movement.
The court had heard that Bickett stepped on the officer’s chest and hit him in the face, whereas Bickett’s defense team said he tried to stop Yu from attacking a younger man who had jumped a turnstile at the metro station, without knowing Yu was a policeman.
During the movement, many young protesters jumped metro turnstiles without paying as a way to protest the allegedly pro-government position of the metro operator.
Bickett, who had been living in Hong Kong since 2014, said he was wrongly convicted and that his imprisonment was “politically motivated.”
He had served about six weeks in jail before being released in August 2021, pending appeal. In February, he lost his appeal and had to return to prison to resume his sentence.
In his Twitter statement, Bickett also said that when he arrived in Istanbul, Turkish officials kept his passport and held him in the airport for eight hours.
“The Turkish officials who were holding me… told me that they were complying with a ‘routine request’ from the Hong Kong government,” he told EFE.
The Hong Kong Immigration Department had not responded to EFE’s inquiry at the time of publication.
In early March, prominent human rights lawyer Paul Harris, former chairperson of the Hong Kong Bar Association originally from Britain, left Hong Kong hours after said he was reportedly summoned to a meeting with the city’s newly formed national security police force. EFE