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Chinese ambassador summoned by UK Foreign Office after three face spying charges

China’s ambassador has been summoned by the UK Foreign Office, after three people were accused of assisting Hong Kong’s intelligence services.

In a meeting with Zheng Zeguang, the Foreign Office officials condemned a “recent pattern of behaviour” by China, including cyber-attacks.

On Monday, three men in the UK were charged with offences under the National Security Act.

Hong Kong called on UK officials to provide “full details” of the charges.

China, under which Hong Kong operates as a special administrative region, has refuted the allegations that the city’s intelligence service was involved.

The Foreign Office said it told Mr Zheng that the “recent pattern of behaviour directed by China against the UK, including cyber-attacks, reports of espionage links and the issuing of bounties” was “not acceptable”.

In a statement, the Chinese embassy described the allegations as “groundless and slanderous”.

It said it had complained to the UK government about its “wrongful behaviour,” including the “unwarranted accusation” against the Hong Kong government.

Mr Zheng had “made further, serious representations to the UK side on the UK’s wrongful behaviour, including its unwarranted accusation” of Hong Kong’s government.

Chi Leung (Peter) Wai, 38, Matthew Trickett, 37 and Chung Biu Yuen, 63, are accused of agreeing to undertake information gathering, surveillance and acts of deception that were likely to materially assist a foreign intelligence service between 20 December 2023 and 2 May.

Mr Wai is a UK Border Force officer and Mr Trickett is a Home Office immigration officer who served as a Royal Marine for six years.

Mr Yuen, also known as Billy Yuen, is a retired Hong Kong police officer who now works as a trade official for the territory based in London.

On Tuesday, Hong Kong’s leader John Lee said he did not know Mr Yuen personally after a photo of the two men reported to have been taken in 2002 began circulating online and in the media.

Mr Lee confirmed in a news conference that both he and Mr Yuen were in the photo – reportedly from a graduation ceremony at Australia’s Charles Stuart University – but said “my impression of that person is just this photo”.

He also told reporters that his government had requested more information from the UK government about the accusations and was “waiting for a reply”.

The three accused men have yet to enter pleas and were granted bail until 24 May, when they are due to appear at the Old Bailey.

District Judge Louisa Cieciora imposed conditions including a 10:00 to 05:00 curfew, reporting weekly to their local police station, no international travel and informing police of devices used to access the internet.

Downing Street said the charges were “deeply concerning” and that the prime minister “thanks the police for their work keeping us safe”.

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