A former employee of the UK's Hong Kong consulate has told the BBC that he was tortured in China and accused of inciting political unrest in the city. During his business trip, he also collected money from the parents of a mainlander, which was meant to be used to pay for their son's judicial proceedings in Hong Kong.
In his lengthy statement as well as several media interviews, Cheng said he was detained along with other people from Hong Kong, though he could not verify their identities.
"Sometimes, they ordered me to do the "stress tests, ' which includes extreme strength exercises such as "squat" and 'chair pose" for countless hours. They beat me every time I failed to do so using something like sharpened batons".
On Wednesday a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson told the BBC they "absolutely can not accept the United Kingdom government's interference in this case" - and would in return summon the United Kingdom ambassador to "express their opposition and anger".
Opposition lawmakers have argued that Cheng's case illustrates the arbitrary nature of the legal system in China, which has fueled recent protests in the city.
In an 8,000-word description of his experiences, Simon Cheng related a nightmare of repeated physical abuse, threats and questioning about Britain's alleged meddling in the protests.
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Cheng was accused of being a British spy and questioned at length about protest leaders and their links to the London School of Economics.
Cheng said his interrogators described him as a mastermind behind the protests, and one promised to keep him in jail indefinitely, causing him to contemplate suicide.
Cheng was released on August 24 after being held in extrajudicial detention for what state media said was a prostitution-related offense.
"Simon Cheng was a valued member of our team".
After hearing Mr Cheng's accounts of torture, the British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said to the BBC: "We are outraged by the disgraceful mistreatment that Mr Cheng faced when he was in detention in mainland China... and we've made clear that we expect the Chinese authorities to review and hold to account those responsible". He demanded an investigation into the "brutal and disgraceful treatment of Simon in violation of China's worldwide obligations".
Cheng said he was initially detained while returning via a high-speed railway station where Hong Kong agreed past year to let mainland agents operate despite fierce opposition from rights advocates.
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"The British Consulate instructed staff to collect information about the status of the protests", he says.
Hong Kong was handed over to China by the colony's former ruler Britain in 1997 but enjoys a degree of autonomy under the so-called "one country, two systems" formula.
Raab's request was immediately rebuffed by the Chinese government, whose spokesperson said it "firmly objects" to the UK's comments and warned the government to "stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China's domestic affairs".
"During the interrogation, I was in a cell sitting on a steel "tiger chair.' I had been buckled up on the chair and [could not] move", Cheng wrote in a statement on Wednesday". Geng said the case is not a diplomatic matter because it involves a Chinese national.
"I speak out now because the case is relevant to the public interest on knowing the flawed judicial process in mainland China", Cheng said.
"I won't give up the fight for human rights, peace, freedom and democracy for the rest of my life, no matter the danger, discrimination and retaliation I will face, and no matter how my reputation will be stained, and no matter whether my future would be blacklisted, labelled, and ruined", Cheng said.
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