U.S. Lawyer Handed Prison Sentence In Hong Kong Over Scuffle With Police During 2019 Protests

ToplineOn Tuesday, a Hong Kong court sentenced an American lawyer for clashing with a plainclothes officer in police custody during the 2019 pro democracy protests. This comes as many foreign workers consider leaving the financial center following Beijing's crackdown on any form of dissent.Riot police secured the area around the Tung Chung MTR Station on September 7, 2019, in Hong Kong,... [+] China. Getty ImagesThe Key FactsBloomberg reported that Samuel Bickett (37-year-old former employee of Bank of America Merrill Lynch) was charged with assaulting police officers and sentenced to four months and two week imprisonment. Bloomberg reported that Bickett was found guilty of assaulting a police officer last month. He was not allowed bail. Last month, the lawyer pleaded not guilty and accused Bickett of needlessly waving his baton at him. However, the police officer in question told the court that Bickett had knelt on the victim's chest and slapped him as he attempted to grab the baton.Important QuoteBickett stated that the verdict was unjust and completely unsupportable by the law in the case. He also said that he would appeal the verdict and will not rest until justice has been done.TangentThe U.S. State Department listed Hong Kong as a Level 3 Travel Advisor, which discourages Americans from visiting the city. The advisory mentions the arbitrarily enforced local laws and COVID-19-related travel limitations.Important BackgroundA bipartisan group representing U.S. legislators wrote last week to President Joe Biden, calling his attention to China's ongoing assault on democracy in Hong Kong. Biden was asked by the lawmakers to explain what his administration was doing in order to coordinate with allies to ensure that the private sector is aware of the risks to U.S. citizens as well as their interests in Hong Kong from the city's national security law. Many Hong Kong residents protested against a law that would allow Hong Kong's government to detain or extradite citizens to mainland China in 2019. Beijing reacted to the protests and implemented a harsh national security law in June 2020. This gave the city authorities broad powers to target political dissidents and created a secret police and a national council to supervise its implementation.Continue readingHong Kong Court Jails U.S. Lawyer for Getting in a Stuffle with a Policeman (Bloomberg).American lawyer convicted for assaulting a Hong Kong police officer in anti-government protests (South China Morning Post).