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Former Sing Tao Daily’s editor-in-chief Victor Leung-mau Ho in Richmond, B.C., on Aug. 15.Jimmy Jeong/The Globe and Mail

The former editor of a Chinese-language newspaper in Canada says he won’t be returning to Hong Kong or have contact with his family in China now that he has been accused by the Hong Kong government of violating China’s National Security Law.

Victor Leung-mau Ho, former editor-in-chief for Sing Tao Daily, was the subject of a statement Aug. 3 by Hong Kong, saying he is suspected of the offence of subversion for his advocacy work in establishing a virtual Hong Kong parliament.

“On the basis of Article 37 of the National Security Law, police shall spare no efforts in pursuing the cases in accordance with the law in order to bring the offenders to justice,” the Aug. 3 statement reads.

In late July, Mr. Ho, along with other Hong Kong activists living in Canada, the U.S. and Britain, said they will hold elections for a parliament-in-exile next year, aiming to create a democratic body to represent Hong Kongers around the globe. Mr. Ho announced the plan in Toronto on July 27.

Mr. Ho, who moved from Hong Kong to Canada in 1997, said he found out about Hong Kong’s sanction against him through messages on social media: “I just wondered, is this real or is this just a kind of warning from the Hong Kong government?”

“What are their actions following the news bulletin?” Mr. Ho said in an interview. “We don’t know. Will they send agents or officers to Canada or the U.S. to search” for people accused of violating this law?

“We have no idea.”

Mr. Ho said he was not overly worried about his safety in Canada right now. He said he expected Beijing would respond to the activism from Canada calling for a virtual parliament, but he said the reprisal came much sooner than he had estimated.

The consequences of violating the 2020 National Security Law, if convicted, include life in prison. Beijing has said the law is needed to bring stability to Hong Kong, a city that since its handover to China in 1997 had enjoyed freedoms not available elsewhere in the country.

Anyone, anywhere in the world can be subject to the law. According to Article 38, it applies to offences against Hong Kong “from outside the region by a person who is not a permanent resident of the region.”

Pro-democracy activists in Canada, as well as NDP MP Jenny Kwan and academics who study China, are calling on the federal government to ensure Mr. Ho and anyone else accused under the law are protected from Beijing’s reach.

In an open letter to the Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, Ms. Kwan said she found the targeting of Mr. Ho “gravely concerning.”

Ms. Kwan, the NDP’s immigration critic, is calling on the federal government to condemn the Chinese law and publicly oppose the targeting of Mr. Ho.

She also said Canada should declare its support for the United Nations’ recommendation that urged Hong Kong to take action to repeal the law and refrain from applying it.

The UN-backed Human Rights Committee has highlighted shortcomings of the law, including the lack of clarity of “national security” and the possibility that people accused under it could be transferred from Hong Kong to mainland China. China is not a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Global Affairs Canada referred questions about the targeting of those in Canada by the Beijing law to Public Safety Canada and declined to answer further questions. Public Safety did not respond.

Canada once had an extradition treaty with Hong Kong but suspended it as part of a package of responses to the National Security Law.

Gordon Houlden, director emeritus of the University of Alberta’s China Institute, said while he is alarmed about Mr. Ho’s situation, he is not surprised.

Although China cannot take action against Mr. Ho while he is in Canada, he said the Canadian government has an obligation to ensure Canadians like Mr. Ho are not harassed by China. He said given the large population of Hong Kongers living in Canada, the law will be a continual source of irritation between the three governments of Hong Kong, China and Canada.

“This is one chapter, but it’s not the only one.”

Bill Chu, a spokesman for Chinese-Canadian Concern Group on the Chinese Communist Party’s Human Rights Violations, said Beijing’s threats toward Mr. Ho will lead to fear among those speaking out in Canada about the plight of Hong Kong.

Mr. Chu said the group’s members, which include Mr. Ho, want Canada to take action to demonstrate Canadians’ basic rights and freedoms are protected.

“Any Canadian should feel their rights protected within boundaries of Canada,” he said. “If they cannot feel confident about that, I think there’s something really wrong, and would be a situation where any foreign power will take advantage of.”

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