08/16/2017, 09.29
HONG KONG - CHINA
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Activist 'kidnapped' and 'tortured by Chinese' arrested: the police doubt his version

by Paul Wang

Security Cameras at Yau Ma Tei picture Howard Lam always alone, wearing a hat, a surgical mask and sunglasses. He states he is not the man in the film. Doctors doubt his mental health. But the Democratic Party demands more evidence from the police and still defends Lam's version. chief of the executive Carrie Lam remains prudent .

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Howard Lam Tsz-kin, the Democratic Party activist who on August 11 said that he was kidnapped, beaten and tortured by some people "speaking in Mandarin", was arrested yesterday by Hong Kong police who are not convinced by his version and suspect manipulation.

In a press conference, Howard Lam said he was kidnapped at Yau Ma Tei, by suspected members of the Chinese secret services, beaten and threatened not to contact Liu Xia, widow of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo who was left to die in jail of cancer. Lam had also shown signs of being beaten and signs of torture: dozens of wounds inflicted on his legs, because - he claims his kidnappers said- "you are Christian and we will give you the cross" (see photo 1) .

On August 14, the FactWire agency published an apparently contradicting version to Lam's story. Using video clips from surveillance cameras at Yau Ma Tei they show Lam (photo 2) and then a man with a hat, a surgical mask and sunglasses, leaving Portland Street (the street where Lam was reportedly kidnapped) and head towards Nathan Road (photo 3). FactWire alone concludes that "Lam appears alone all the time. A review of security videos also shows that there is no suspect or possible kidnapper."

The next day, yesterday at 12.30 pm, after also reviewing cctv in the area, the police arrested Lam: "He might have given false statements and manipulated us to divert us," the police spokesman said. Lam has reiterated that the person seen in the video is "not me".

For the government's critics, Lam's case was another proof that Hong Kong people are no longer safe even in the territory and that China now seems disinterested in maintaining the “One nation, two systems" principle. And many are reminded of the five booksellers kidnapped in Hong Kong by Chinese policemen and taken to China for months, and then released on having issued a video-confession.

The Democratic Party defends Lam's position, at least until the police finds more convincing evidence of alleged machinations and has defended the decision to hold the press conference on August 11 before even denouncing the kidnap and violence to police.

Some doctors have suggested that Lam is mentally unstable. In 2014 – a thyroid cancer sufferer - he suffered from depression and attempted to commit suicide. Tam Tak-chi, a Lam's friend since 2006, has confirmed that he has had depression problems in the past, but he has now passed. Lam himself, interviewed by a local radio, said, "I'm healthy mentally. I do not really think I'm sick in some way ... I do not have paranoia or persecution illusion. "

The prudent position of Carrie Lam, the head of Hong Kong's executive, is of note. She stated she had "full confidence" in the police investigation and did not endorse or oppose Lam's interpretation. "The case of Mr. Lam - she said - is purely a case under investigation by police. From the beginning until this moment, I have had absolutely no involvement in this case, and I have every confidence that our police colleagues will fully investigate, of course, with the cooperation of the person involved".

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