Human Rights Watch chief says barred from entering Hong Kong

Human Rights Watch chief Kenneth Roth -- pictured in October 2019 -- said he was turned back by authorities at Hong Kong's airport

Human Rights Watch chief Kenneth Roth said Sunday he had been denied entry into Hong Kong, where he had arrived to launch the watchdog's annual report after months of civil unrest in the city.

"I had hoped to spotlight Beijing's deepening assault on international efforts to uphold human rights," Roth said. "The refusal to let me enter Hong Kong vividly illustrates the problem."

The long-time executive director of the New York-based rights group said in a video posted to Twitter that he was turned back by authorities at the financial hub's airport.

China last month announced sanctions on American NGOs, including HRW, in retaliation for the passage of a US bill backing pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

"A large amount of facts and evidence... make it clear that these non-governmental organisations support anti-China" forces and "incite separatist activities for Hong Kong independence", China's foreign affairs ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said at the time.

Roth joins a growing list of openly critical academics, researchers, politicians and activists who have been denied entry in recent years.

Financial Times journalist Victor Mallet was denied a visa renewal without reason in 2018 after he hosted a talk with the leader of a small and now banned independence party at the city's press club.

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