White House calls for release of Catholic Cardinal in Hong Kong

Joseph Zen
FILE – Hong Kong’s outspoken cardinal Joseph Zen, center, and other religious protesters hold placards with “Respects religious freedom” written on them during a demonstration outside the China Liaison Office in Hong Kong, Wednesday, July 11, 2012. Reports say a Roman Catholic cardinal and three others have been arrested in Hong Kong on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces to endanger Chinese national security. U.K.-based human rights group Hong Kong Watch said Cardinal Joseph Zen, lawyer Margaret Ng, singer Denise Ho and scholar Hui Po-keung were detained Wednesday, , May 11, 2022, by Hong Kong’s National Security Police. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

The White House on Wednesday called for the release of Catholic Cardinal Joseph Zen and others who were arrested in Hong Kong for allegedly colluding with foreign forces to endanger China’s national security.

“Freedom of expression are critical to prosperous and secure societies,” White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters.

“We call on PRC and Hong Kong authorities to cease targeting Hong Kong’s advocates and to immediately release those who have been unjustly detained and charged, like the Cardinal Joseph Zen … and others arrested today,” she said, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

Zen, singer-actress Denise Ho, lawyer Margaret Ng and scholar Hui Po-keung were reportedly detained by Hong Kong’s National Security Police because of their roles as trustees of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund.

Zen, 90, is a retired archbishop of Hong Kong and an outspoken critic of China. The Vatican has said it is aware of the arrest and that it is “following the evolution of the situation with extreme attention.”

The arrests on Wednesday directly follow the selection on Sunday, in a process controlled by Beijing, of John Lee to serve as Hong Kong’s new chief executive. Lee is a former security chief and ran unopposed.

The now-closed Humanitarian Relief Fund provided legal aid to people who participated in the 2019 pro-democracy protests in the country. Since those demonstrations, other pro-democracy activists have been arrested under the National Security Law, which was imposed on Hong Kong in 2020.

Tags China Hong Kong John Lee Karine Jean-Pierre Karine Jean-Pierre Vatican

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