China releases footage of ex-British Consulate worker ‘soliciting prostitution’
Chinese state media has published CCTV footage that allegedly proves a former British Consulate employee unlawfully solicited prostitution, the day after he claimed he was tortured by authorities.
Simon Cheng wrote in a blog posted on Wednesday that he was arrested following accusations of inciting political unrest in Hong Kong and detained in the Chinese city of Shenzen for 15 days in August.
He claims he was later accused of “soliciting prostitution” and was tortured, before being forced to sign a confession.
The footage put out by the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party, appears to show Mr Cheng at a massage salon on three occasions.
It does not offer concrete evidence that Cheng solicited prostitution, nor does it prove that he was not tortured.
Cheng, who is a Hong Kong citizen, has acknowledged that he got a massage on his business trip “for relaxation after work hours” on August 8, the day that he was arrested.
In a detailed blog he described being “handcuffed, shackled, blindfolded and hooded” and said he struggled to breathe.
“Secret police let the civilian uniformed police lead the interrogation. They claimed that external sources reported that I ‘solicited prostitution,'” he said.
“If I co-operate then I will face a less hard treatment. I would not get a criminal record under administrative detention.
“The alternative was indefinite criminal detention, severe criminal charge and harsh treatment handled by secret police. I have no choice but to give a confession.”
The post has been shared widely on social media.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab met with the Chinese ambassador on Tuesday to discuss Mr Cheng’s case.
Mr Raab said that the UK Government was shocked by Mr Cheng’s “brutal and disgraceful” treatment and call for the Chinese authorities to investigate the matter fully.
The Foreign Office said it was working to support Mr Cheng and his fiancee which would include bringing them to the UK.
Mr Cheng says that following his ordeal he fled from Hong Kong and was asked to resign from the British Government in November.
“I am now vulnerable after seeing no concrete support and protection at the moment. I shall try and make a living myself and try to seek help from civil society,” he said.
Amnesty International said that they could not comment on the CCTV footage and the precise allegations, but said that Mr Cheng’s case was “in line with the endemic torture and other ill-treatment” carried out by the Chinese authorities.