UK consulate staffer Simon Cheng returns to Hong Kong after China detention

UK consulate staffer Simon Cheng returns to Hong Kong after China detention

Simon Cheng
Simon Cheng's family does not know why, where or how long he will be held. (Photo: Facebook/Free Simon Cheng)

HONG KONG: A British consulate employee detained in China has returned to Hong Kong, his family said on Saturday (Aug 24).

Simon Cheng disappeared after visiting the neighbouring city of Shenzhen on Aug 8 and was placed in administrative detention by police.

"Simon has returned to Hong Kong," his family said in a Facebook post, adding he would take "some time to rest and recover".

The Global Times, a tabloid state-run newspaper, said on Thursday he had been detained for "soliciting prostitutes", citing police in Shenzhen, which lies on the China-Hong Kong border.

But a Facebook page run by Cheng's family dismissed the report.

"This is a made-up crime of soliciting prostitution, everyone should see it's a joke," the comment said.

A woman holds a poster of Simon Cheng, a staff member at the consulate who went missing on August 9
A woman holds a poster of Simon Cheng during a protest outside the British Consulate-general office in Hong Kong on Aug 21, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan)

Beijing confirmed Wednesday an employee of the British consulate had been "placed in administrative detention for 15 days as punishment" by police in Shenzhen for breaking a public security law.

The foreign ministry said he was "a Hong Kong citizen, he's not a UK citizen, which is also saying he's a Chinese person".

READ: UK seeking contact with Hong Kong consulate staffer held in China

According to the Global Times, Cheng could be detained for up to 15 days and fined up to 5,000 yuan (US$700) for the alleged crime.

In an editorial on Friday, the tabloid said it was at Cheng's request that police did not contact his family and that "thanks to the British foreign ministry and media, which have been hyping it, the case is now fully exposed."

Cheng was in the process of returning via high-speed train on Aug 8 and sent messages to his girlfriend as he was about to go through customs.

Source: AFP/rw