The only extradition bill protester to deliberately reveal his face in the main chamber of Hong Kong’s legislature as he urged others to stay after storming the building has fled the city, a source told the Post on Saturday.
It was not immediately clear where Brian Leung Kai-ping, 25, had gone, as he refused to confirm his exile or whereabouts when contacted. The Post earlier published an exclusive interview with Leung following the July 1 takeover of the Legislative Council.
On Saturday, Leung said: “I have nothing to say at this time. I’m still considering various options.”
Pressed on whether he was already in the US to continue his doctorate at the University of Washington, he added: “I’m still seeking legal advice.”
The source said Leung was clearly aware of the risk of being arrested after the July 1 protests, and had not made up his mind on whether he would come back.
On the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule, as hundreds of thousands took to the streets in a pro-democracy march, young protesters surrounded Legco in a siege that would end in the storming of the complex that night.
Protesters had defaced Legco, and Leung was the only one to remove his mask in front of cameras, urging a group to stay in the chamber as police closed in on the site. Eventually, all demonstrators left the scene.
Hong Kong and the United States have an extradition treaty, but even if Leung had indeed fled there, it was unclear if local authorities would submit a request to have him returned to the city, or whether the American government would accept the demand.
On the night of July 1, as protesters broke windows and left graffiti on Legco walls, Leung had stepped on a lawmaker’s desk, removed his mask and asked others to stay behind.
“The more people here, the safer we are. Let’s stay and occupy the chamber, we can’t lose any more,” he shouted at the time. But he eventually gave up as most protesters chose to leave and police readied for a clearance operation.
Leung had volunteered to be in front of cameras to read out key demands of the protesters in the chamber. “The last thing I wished to see, after all the action taken, was to have no clear demands put on the table,” he later said.
In an interview with the Post via Telegram call on July 3, Leung refused to disclose whether he was still in Hong Kong, but conceded he might not be able to fly to the US this September.
“While I am not yet a political dissident in exile, that is a real threat ahead of me and my peers if the government chooses to press charges against all who entered Legco,” Leung said in the interview.
He said his long term goal was still to return to Hong Kong.
Leung obtained a dual degree in law and politics at the University of Hong Kong, and was the former chief editor of the Undergrad, a school magazine published by the student union.
Years ago, a publication called Hong Kong Nationalism under the magazine was criticised by then chief executive Leung Chun-ying. But Brian Leung insisted he was not promoting the city’s breaking away from mainland China, merely advocating a “Hong Kong identity”.
On the recent unrest over the now-suspended extradition bill, security minister John Lee Ka-Chiu accused protesters of committing serious offences, including forced entry into Legco and possession of weapons. Legal experts have warned of the risk of being detained over criminal damages, unlawful assembly or even rioting.
The extradition bill would have allowed the transfer of fugitives from Hong Kong to jurisdictions with which the city has no such agreement, including mainland China.
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