Hong Kong minister says she has "no opinion" on torture claim against China

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LONDON (Reuters) - Hong Kong’s justice secretary said on Wednesday she had no opinion on an accusation of torture made against China by a Hong Kong citizen who worked at the British consulate in the city.

Simon Cheng, who worked for the British government for almost two years, said secret police in China beat him, deprived him of sleep and shackled him in an attempt to force him to give information about activists leading pro-democracy protests.

Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng, speaking to reporters at the Chinese embassy in London, said he should report the matter to the relevant Chinese authorities.

“There are many things that are often reported and sometimes it is extremely important to gather the whole facts and veracity of it before any view is to be formed,” Cheng, who is not related to Simon Cheng, said in English when asked if she was alarmed by the account of torture.

“So I prefer to hold my opinion until I have the opportunity to collect and analyse any information that I might have,” she added.

The justice secretary, who sustained a wrist injury in London last week when she was pushed to the ground by people protesting against the Hong Kong government, drew a parallel between the incident and the alleged mistreatment of Simon Cheng.

“I reported my incident to the police and I would encourage him to do the same with the relevant authorities in the mainland,” she said, after relating the medical details of her wrist injury.

“There is usually an avenue by which these matters can be aired,” she said when asked how Cheng could complain to Chinese authorities about torture allegedly carried out by the Chinese authorities themselves.

In an 8,000-word description of his experiences, Simon Cheng related a nightmare of repeated physical abuse, threats and questioning about Britain’s alleged meddling in the protests. Britain’s foreign secretary said the treatment amounted to torture and summoned the Chinese ambassador to discuss the case.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; writing by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by Estelle Shirbon