British man accused of spying for Hong Kong’s intelligence services found dead in park

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A man charged by British police for allegedly spying for Hong Kong’s intelligence services, has been found dead in a park outside of London.

Police are investigating the “unexplained death” of Matthew Trickett, 37, whose body was found by a member of the public in the park in Maidenhead, Berkshire, west of London, on Sunday, Thames Valley police said in a statement.

Trickett had appeared alongside two other suspects at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on May 13, charged with national security offences. All three were granted bail.

“Trickett was on court bail, awaiting court proceedings, which required him to register at a police station regularly,” the police said.

In a statement, Trickett’s family told British newspaper The Times: “We’re mourning the loss of a much-loved son, brother and family man.”

The Chinese Embassy in the UK and Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee have both condemned and rejected the accusations.

Relations between Hong Kong and its former colonial ruler Britain have soured in recent years following mass pro-democracy protests in the Chinese city in 2019 and 2020.

The British government has criticized Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed crackdown on almost all opposition in the years following the protests, while Hong Kong authorities have bristled at Britain providing a safe haven for pro-democracy leaders sought by the Hong Kong police.

The charges against the three men allege that between December 20, 2023, and May 2, 2024, they agreed to undertake information gathering, surveillance and acts of deception that were likely to materially assist a foreign intelligence service, according to PA media.

Police also alleged that on May 1, the three forced entry into a UK residential address, according to PA.

While all three were granted bail, they were barred from traveling internationally with District Judge Louisa Cieciora saying they must abide by a night time curfew and report weekly to their local police station.

In a recent press conference, Lee said one of the men charged was the office manager of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London but did not directly address a question over whether it was involved in surveillance of Hong Kong dissidents in the UK.

Lee, the city’s former security chief, said that Hong Kong’s Economic and Trade Office exists to facilitate cultural and economic interactions with people and businesses in the UK and that “Any attempt to make unwarranted accusations against the Hong Kong government is unacceptable.”

Additional reporting by Lucas Lilieholm, Chris Lau and Jerome Taylor in Hong Kong

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