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2 men will go on trial for allegedly helping Hong Kong authorities gather intelligence in UK | The Asahi Shimbun: Breaking News, Japan News and Analysis

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LONDON–The office manager of the Hong Kong trade office in London and another man will go on trial in February for allegedly helping Hong Kong authorities gather intelligence in the U.K. a judge said Friday.

Chung Biu Yuen, 63, and Chi Leung Peter Wai, 38, appeared at London’s Central Criminal Court for a preliminary hearing, charged with agreeing to undertake information gathering, surveillance and acts of deception that were likely to materially assist a foreign intelligence service between December 2023 and May 2.

Hong Kong authorities have confirmed that Yuen was the office manager of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London.

A third suspect, 37-year-old Briton Matthew Trickett, was also charged in the case, but he was found dead Sunday in a park under what police said were unexplained circumstances.

Prosecutor Kashif Malik said during an earlier hearing that Trickett, reportedly a U.K. immigration enforcement officer and a former Royal Marine, had attempted suicide after being charged. He was also the director of a security company.

Police said in an updated statement Friday that a coroner has completed a post-mortem and his death is not being treated as suspicious.

Justice Jeremy Baker set a trial date for Feb. 10, set to last for about five weeks. The judge said the men were granted bail on condition that they observe a set curfew and other restrictions.

The three men were charged under Britain’s National Security Act after an investigation by the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command. Prosecutors allege that the suspects also forced entry into a U.K. residential address.

They were arrested earlier this month in London and Yorkshire in northern England by counterterrorism police, using provisions of a new law that allows suspects in national security and espionage cases to be detained without warrant.

The case drew strong criticism from officials in Beijing and Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese control in 1997.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Friday that the charges were “an act of political manipulation in the name of national security.”

“It seriously infringed on the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese nationals in the U.K., gravely undermined China-U.K. relations, seriously violated the principles of international law and the basic norms of international relations and badly harmed the image of the U.K.,” he told reporters.

In Hong Kong, a government spokesman said the city’s Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Algernon Yau, met with Britain’s deputy consul-general in Hong Kong on Thursday to reiterate concerns about the case.

Yau urged British authorities to handle the matter fairly and ensure the normal operation of the Hong Kong trade office in London.

All of the Hong Kong trade office’s activities have been conducted in accordance with the law, the city’s government added.

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