Three men charged in UK for allegedly assisting Hong Kong intelligence service

British police have charged three men in relation to assisting the intelligence service of Hong Kong amid growing concern that hostile states are trying to interfere with democracy and economic activity in the U.K. The three men were among 11 people arrested earlier this month in Yorkshire and London by counterterrorism police using provisions of a new law that allows suspects in national security and espionage cases to be detained without warrant. The eight other suspects were released without charge. Chi Leung (Peter) Wai, 38, Matthew Trickett, 37, and Chung Biu Yuen, 63, are also charged with foreign interference, the Metropolitan Police Service said. They will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday. “A number of arrests were made and searches carried out as part of this investigation,” Commander Dominic Murphy, head of the Met’s counterterrorism command, said in a statement. “While led from London, the Counter Terrorism Policing network has been crucial to disrupting this activity.” The announcement comes as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak prepares to deliver a speech on Monday in which he is expected to say that Britain is facing an increasingly dangerous future due to threats from an “axis of authoritarian states,” including Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. Tensions with China flared last year after a parliamentary researcher was arrested on suspicion of spying for Beijing, charges that Chinese officials called a “malicious smear.” Hong Kong’s security bureau, Hong Kong police and the office foreign ministry in Hong Kong didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. The British government last year passed a new national security act that gave police additional powers to tackle foreign espionage. The legislation was needed to combat the “ever-evolving” threat of foreign interference and in “response to the threat of hostile activity from states targeting the U.K.’s democracy, economy, and values,” the government said. The arrests in the current case were made on May 1 and 2. The investigation is continuing, police said.