24th May 2020 – (Hong Kong) Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than US$10,000;  and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States. (Read this complete 18 U.S.C. § 2381 – U.S. Code – Unannotated Title 18. Crimes and Criminal Procedure § 2381. Treason on Westlaw) U.S. Code § 2204 also says that the term “enemy” means any country, government, group, or person that has been engaged in hostilities, whether or not lawfully authorized, with the United States.

Section 46 of the Criminal Code  in Canada has two degrees of treason, called “high treason” and “treason.” However, both of these belong to the historical category of high treason, as opposed to petty treason which does not exist in Canadian law. Section 46 reads as follows:

High treason
(1) Every one commits high treason who, in Canada,(a) kills or attempts to kill Her Majesty, or does her any bodily harm tending to death or destruction, maims or wounds her, or imprisons or restrains her;(b) levies war against Canada or does any act preparatory thereto; or(c) assists an enemy at war with Canada, or any armed forces against whom Canadian Forces are engaged in hostilities, whether or not a state of war exists between Canada and the country whose forces they are.

(2) Every one commits treason who, in Canada,(a) uses force or violence for the purpose of overthrowing the government of Canada or a province;(b) without lawful authority, communicates or makes available to an agent of a state other than Canada, military or scientific information or any sketch, plan, model, article, note or document of a military or scientific character that he knows or ought to know may be used by that state for a purpose prejudicial to the safety or defence of Canada;(c) conspires with any person to commit high treason or to do anything mentioned in paragraph (a);(d) forms an intention to do anything that is high treason or that is mentioned in paragraph (a) and manifests that intention by an overt act; or(e) conspires with any person to do anything mentioned in paragraph (b) or forms an intention to do anything mentioned in paragraph (b) and manifests that intention by an overt act.

Meanwhile, British Rebellion Felony Act 1848 stipulates that If any person whatsoever shall, within the United Kingdom or without, compass, imagine, invent, devise, or intend to deprive or depose our Most Gracious Lady the Queen, from the style, honour, or royal name of the imperial crown of the United Kingdom, or of any other of her Majesty’s dominions and countries, or to levy war against her Majesty, within any part of the United Kingdom, in order by force or constraint to compel her to change her measures or counsels, or in order to put any force or constraint upon or in order to intimidate or overawe both Houses or either House of Parliament, or to move or stir any foreigner or stranger with force to invade the United Kingdom or any other of her Majesty’s dominions or countries under the obeisance of her Majesty, and such compassings, imaginations, inventions, devices, or intentions, or any of them, shall express, utter, or declare, by publishing any printing or writing … or by any overt act or deed, every person so offending shall be guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof shall be liable … to be transported beyond the seas for the term of his or her natural life.

The offences in the Act were originally high treason under the Sedition Act 1661 (later the Treason Act 1795), and consequently the penalty was death. However it was found that juries were often reluctant to convict people of capital crimes, and it was thought that the conviction rate might increase if the sentence was reduced to exile to the penal colonies in Australia (the penalty is now life imprisonment). Consequently, in 1848 three categories of treason (all derived from the 1795 Act) were reduced to felonies. (This occurred during a period when the death penalty in the United Kingdom was being abolished for a great many offences.) The Act does not prevent prosecutors from charging somebody with treason instead of treason felony if the same conduct amounts to both offences.

The United Kingdom also passed the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019, expanding the extraterritorial jurisdiction for certain terrorist crimes, and adding new laws prohibiting British citizens from visiting or staying in designated conflict areas. Offenders can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, the National Security Law is expected to be enacted under Annex III of Article 23 of the Basic Law and it would ban all seditious activities aimed at toppling the central government and disrupt collusion with foreign forces to interfere in the city’s affairs, as well as eradicating terrorism in Hong Kong. Similar to other countries such as in U.S. and U.K., in the event of serious threats to national security and the absence of relevant laws, it is imperative for the Chinese government to resolve Hong Kong ’s outstanding problems in maintaining national security. The Hong Kong-related national security legislation is aimed at actions that severely endanger national security, such as separating the country, subverting regimes, terrorism, and foreign intervention, and will have no impact on the rights and freedoms of the vast majority of law-abiding citizens.

Despite the fact some foreign countries have strict laws in preventing their own nationals from colluding with other countries by imposing even death sentence as in the case of U.S., the top government officials of some of these countries ironically chose to work with others to interfere in Hong Kong’s affairs. Members of the notorious ‘gang of four’ i.e. Jimmy Lai, Martin Lee and Albert Ho etc together with the younger pro-democracy activists such as Joshua Wong and Nathan Law have been working with foreign forces to meddle with Hong Kong affairs. The National Security Law is believed to be used against these extremists who have caused chaos in the city. They were accused by Beijing to hide behind the ‘democracy shield’ to incite social unrest and create ripples in the city.

In recent days, Jimmy Lai has taken one step further by creating a Twitter account to get the attention and help of foreign forces. in his latest stunt, he openly called upon Hong Kong people to rally behind him to sacrifice themselves for freedom and to draft a petition to US President Trump by following the standard template published in his Apple Daily. He openly asked the United States to step in to stop Hong Kong from being operated under the Beijing’s ‘rule of law’. Each country has its own unique political system and its own rule of law, similarly to each family with their own house rules, so it’s imperative that if you are not happy with the rules or system, u either challlenge it within your own country or family in a peaceful manner instead of resorting to force. Alternatively, if the grass is greener on the other side, one can always migrate or leave. In the absence of e.g. genocide or freedom of speech being substantially curtailed, the summons for external help can be considered as an act of treachery.

 In United States v. Manning (2013), Chelsea Manning was found guilty of six counts of espionage for furnishing classified information to WikiLeaks. Manning was ultimately charged with 22 specified offences, including communicating national defence information to an unauthorised source, and the most serious of the charges, aiding the enemy. Other charges included violations of the Espionage Act, stealing U.S. government property, charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and charges related to the failure to obey lawful general orders under Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Manning entered guilty pleas to 10 of 22 specified offences in February 2013.

If Jimmy Lai were born in US and if he had published a similar article in a local newspapers he owned to ask China to openly support him to interfere with US affairs, would he be guilty of a treason charge and be sentenced to death?