Hong Kong leader refuses to explain journalist visa denial

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that linking the visa denial to pro-independence leader Andy Chan’s talk in August was ‘pure speculation.’ (AFP)
Updated 09 October 2018
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Hong Kong leader refuses to explain journalist visa denial

  • An application to renew Victor Mallet’s work visa has been refused and on Sunday he was given seven days to leave Hong Kong
  • Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the decision had been handed down by immigration authorities

HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s leader Tuesday refused to say why the city had denied a visa to a leading Financial Times journalist, despite escalating demands for an explanation of the unprecedented challenge to freedom of the press.
Victor Mallet, the FT’s Asia news editor and a British national, angered authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong by hosting a speech at the city’s press club by Andy Chan, the leader of a tiny pro-independence political party, in August.
Chan’s party was later banned as Beijing cracks down on any pro-independence sentiment in the semi-autonomous city.
An application to renew Mallet’s work visa has been refused and on Sunday he was given seven days to leave Hong Kong.
Facing questions for the first time since the visa denial emerged last week, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the decision had been handed down by immigration authorities.
She said linking it to the Chan talk was “pure speculation.”
“As a rule — not only locally, but internationally — we will never disclose, the immigration department will not disclose, the individual circumstances of the case or the considerations of this decision,” Lam told reporters.
She refused to directly acknowledge the specifics of the speculation over why Mallet was denied the visa, admitting only that she had “noticed there has been some talk on the street.”
However, Lam said the government “will not tolerate any advocacy of Hong Kong independence and things that harm national security, territorial integrity and developmental interests.”
She refused to comment on how Mallet could be linked to any of those potential threats when it was pointed out that he was not an independence advocate but had simply chaired a talk by Chan at the city’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club, which has also hosted talks by Chinese officials.
Asked whether journalists could now be punished for interviewing independence activists or writing about independence, Lam said she could give no guidance but insisted that freedom of reporting and expression were “still core values.”
Britain and the United States have expressed concern over the visa refusal and its impact on press freedom.
On Monday, a group of the city’s most influential lawyers also demanded an explanation, while the American Chamber of Commerce warned that curtailing press freedom could damage the city’s competitiveness.
A journalists’ alliance handed over petitions with more than 15,000 signatures to the government Monday calling for an explanation of its visa rejection.


Mystery of Saudi journalist Khashoggi's missing tweets

Updated 16 October 2018
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Mystery of Saudi journalist Khashoggi's missing tweets

RIYADH: Unusual activity has been observed on Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s Twitter account since his disappearance on Oct. 2 — with a total of 163 old tweets having been deleted.
This has raised questions about the identity of the person managing Khashoggi’s Twitter account — and whether it is his alleged fiancée Hatice (Khadija) Cengiz. It was reported that all of Khashoggi’s cellphones are in her possession; yet Khashoggi’s ex-wife, Alaa Nassif, has said neither she nor Khashoggi’s family had any knowledge of Khadija.
On the day of Khashoggi’s disappearance, he had not followed anyone new and the number of the accounts he followed was 778, according to the analytics tool SocialBlade.

After US commandos killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011, Khashoggie tweeted about how he had “collapsed crying.” He wrote on Twitter: “I collapsed crying a while ago, heartbroken for you Abu Abdullah (Bin Laden’s nickname). You were beautiful and brave in those beautiful days in Afghanistan, before you surrendered to hatred and passion.”
After US commandos killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011, Khashoggi tweeted about how he had “collapsed crying.” He wrote on Twitter: “I collapsed crying a while ago, heartbroken for you Abu Abdullah (Bin Laden’s nickname). You were beautiful and brave in those beautiful days in Afghanistan, before you surrendered to hatred and passion.”


That day, an additional 20 tweets were posted on Khashoggi’s account. Yet between Oct. 3 and Oct. 15, a total of 163 tweets were deleted — including 90 tweets on Oct. 4 alone. The number of accounts followed by Khashoggi also dropped by five during the same period — although it is not clear whether these accounts were deliberately unfollowed.

Rogue killers: Read US President Donald Trump’s latest comments on the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi

A Saudi Twitter user named Trad Al-Asmari has also monitored Khashoggi’s account and posted the findings online.
Questions have been raised over the kind of tweets being deleted from Khashoggi’s account, given the controversial nature of some of his posts, in which he had expressed views that could have been deemed sympathetic to Al-Qaeda and Daesh.

In another tweet, Khashoggi apparently aimed to justify Daesh’s tactic of beheading people.


Lebanese political activist Nidal Sabeh said in a tweet about the activity on Khashoggi’s account:
“The person managing the Twitter account of Jamal Khashoggi has removed me from his friends list. His account has been recently very active, deleting several tweets and unfollowing accounts Jamal used to follow. I have no idea what could be the purpose of this act, but it certainly is noticeable.”