Hong Kong's chief executive on Friday protested to Germany over the granting of political asylum to two pro-independence activists.
Ray Wong and Alan Li were granted political asylum by Germany in May, according to recent reports in the New York Times, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse (AFP).
They fled Hong Kong in 2017 while on bail pending charges of rioting during a 2016 street protest in support of street vendor that came to be known as the "Fishball Revolution."
Chief executive Carrie Lam summoned Germany's Acting Consul General in the city, David Schmidt, to protest the granting of asylum to Wong and Li, the government said in a statement on its website.
Lam told Schmidt that "she strongly objects to, and deeply regrets, the reported granting of asylum to two Hong Kong residents who jumped bail to flee Hong Kong while awaiting trial on serious charges," the statement said.
Lam said Hong Kong's rule of law and judicial independence had long been held in high regard by the international community, citing 14 "eminent overseas judges" who sit on the city's Court of Final Appeal.
She also cited the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report as ranking Hong Kong first in Asia for judicial independence, the statement said.
"Anyone accused of breaching the law in Hong Kong would face an open and fair trial," Lam told Schmidt, saying that Germany's decision had "unjustifiably undermined Hong Kong’s international reputation in the rule of law and judicial independence."
She said Wong and Li are facing serious charges including riot and assaulting police in relation to the Mong Kok riot in February 2016.
During the riots, protesters hurled paving bricks and wooden pallets, burned cars, and attacked police, more than 80 of whom sustained injuries, she said.
"She said she was dismayed that apparently such a basic assessment of facts had not been made," the statement said.
Lam asked Schmidt "to convey her deep regrets and strong objections to the relevant German authorities," it said.
However, pro-democracy politicians said it was too easy for opposition figures to be prosecuted in the city for nonviolent public order offenses.
Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong was sent back to prison by a Hong Kong court on May 16 to finish serving a sentence for his role in the 2014 Occupy Central protests.
Joshua Wong, now 22, had earlier begun serving a six-month jail term for his part in the storming of police barriers outside government headquarters on Sept. 26, 2014 at the start of the Occupy Central democracy movement.
He was acquitted alongside fellow defendants Nathan Law and Alex Chow by Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal in February 2018.
Sent back to jail
But he was also handed a three-month sentence for "contempt of court" for trying to block the police clearance of an Occupy protest site in Mong Kok at the tail-end of the Umbrella Movement, which gained its nickname from the use of umbrellas by peaceful protesters to ward off pepper spray and tear-gas attacks by riot police.
Ray Wong earlier said he had decided to break his silence amid a bitter political row over proposed changes to Hong Kong's extradition law that would allow the rendition of people deemed criminal suspects by the ruling Chinese Communist Party to mainland China.
Pro-democracy lawmakers have bitterly opposed the plan, and accused the administration of Carrie Lam of sacrificing Hong Kong's international reputation as a city ruled by law to demands from Beijing, which has insisted that the extradition laws be amended as a matter of urgency.
Hong Kong's best-known independence activist, Edward Leung, was jailed for six years in 2018 for his role in the "Fishball Revolution."
Reported by RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.