That was the final that family members and associates heard from the three, who had been amongst a dozen Hong Kong activists intercepted at sea by Chinese language authorities whereas making an attempt to flee to Taiwan on a speedboat. Greater than three weeks since their detention, these closest to them say they worry for his or her well being, security and psychological state and are distressed they’ve been held incommunicado and with out entry to personal attorneys.

Kok, a Portuguese nationwide, has been denied consular entry, based on his Hong Kong lawyer and the Portuguese consul normal in Macao, who’s in search of readability on {the teenager}’s situation.

“We are attempting to acquire additional data from the Chinese language authorities, noting that Mr. Kok can be a Chinese language nationwide,” the consul normal, Paulo Cunha Alves, stated in an e-mail.

The activists’ households are urgent Hong Kong’s authorities to ensure their family members’ return to town, which is meant to have its personal authorized system separate from that in mainland China, and for the 12 to have the ability to converse to their households and attorneys of their alternative.

On Sunday, the Shenzhen Public Safety Bureau’s Yantian department stated the 12, seized by the Guangdong coast guard on Aug. 23, had been in its custody and suspected of illegally crossing the border. Overseas Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, in a tweet the identical day, described them as “components making an attempt to separate [Hong Kong] from China” — elevating the specter of extreme penalties, together with life in jail. Hua was responding to a assertion from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who stated he was “deeply disturbed” that the Hong Kongers had been denied their alternative of attorneys.

The activists, all of whom had been beforehand arrested on expenses associated to Hong Kong’s ­pro-democracy motion, had been the newest to flee town in hopes of beginning a brand new life freed from political persecution in Taiwan. Their ages vary from 16 to 33.

In response to questions from The Washington Submit, a consultant for the Hong Kong authorities referred to an article written by town’s safety chief John Lee, confirming the detention of the 12 Hong Kong residents in mainland China.

The Hong Kong authorities “doesn’t need international jurisdictions to intervene with the legislation enforcement of the [Hong Kong] particular administrative area, so it respects and won’t intervene with the legislation enforcement of different jurisdictions,” Lee stated.

Since late final yr, some Hong Kong protesters arrested within the 2019 rebellion have sought to flee by boat as a result of bail situations or passport seizures have prevented them from leaving by common means. In an earlier assertion, the Hong Kong police stated that 11 of the 12 had been barred from leaving town underneath courtroom orders and that they had been concerned in circumstances together with tried arson, possession of offensive weapons, rioting and possession of explosives. Some 10,000 have been arrested because the pro-democracy protests started in June 2019.

One, activist Andy Li, was arrested underneath Hong Kong’s new nationwide safety legislation, which criminalizes broadly worded offenses comparable to collusion with a international energy and secession. Boats continued to depart for Taiwan after the legislation handed in late June, as extra feared political persecution and heavy jail sentences, however have stopped because the 12 activists had been intercepted final month, based on individuals aware of the matter, talking on the situation of anonymity for worry of authorized repercussions.

This previous weekend, family members of a number of of the detainees held an emotional information convention the place they appealed to the Hong Kong authorities to make sure their family members’ security. Accompanied by two pro-democracy lawmakers and a distinguished native activist, the family members donned windbreakers with the hoods pulled over their heads, sun shades, surgical masks and hats to disguise their identities.

“I’ve been having nightmares by which my husband is jailed, bald, his face soiled with the stubble of a rising beard and me helplessly,” stated one girl, who recognized herself because the spouse of Wong Wai-yin, 29, who was charged in Hong Kong with plotting to make an explosive and was launched on bail earlier than he fled. She spoke in Mandarin. “I simply hope my husband can return quickly.”

The Submit individually interviewed a confidante of Kok’s, who described him as a candy and cheerful one who had a troubled relationship along with his mother and father.

“He likes to make jokes, he was at all times good at pleasing individuals round him,” the particular person stated, talking on the situation of anonymity, citing security issues. “I miss him a lot, I simply need his secure return again to Hong Kong.”

Kok’s lawyer, who acknowledged that {the teenager} should face trial in mainland China, described the scenario as more and more determined.

“Our demand could be very humble,” stated the lawyer, who additionally spoke on the situation of anonymity as a result of he feared for his security. “We solely ask that he get to talk along with his household and lawyer, and that we will guarantee he’s secure and never injured, with none inhumane therapy.”

Human rights attorneys in mainland China have been making an attempt to get entry to the detained Hong Kongers, to no avail. Lu Siwei, a lawyer from Sichuan province, stated he tried 3 times to entry his consumer after he was contacted by the detainee’s household in Hong Kong. He was rebuffed every time, warned towards pursuing the case and later summoned by the Justice Division in Sichuan, he stated.

“Though he was simply accused of a standard crime, I really feel like there’s something unusual behind this case,” he stated in an interview. Lu stated that he’ll convey his case to increased ranges of presidency, together with the Guangdong provincial authorities and even the Beijing Supreme Courtroom, if the Yantian detention heart in Shenzhen continues to bar him entry.

“There shouldn’t be an issue,” he stated.

Nick Aspinwall in Taipei, Taiwan, and Tiffany Liang and Ryan Ho Kilpatrick in Hong Kong contributed to this report.