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21 May, 2024 21:07

Alleged spy found dead in UK

Former Royal Marine Matthew Trickett was accused of surveilling Hong Kong independence activists for the Chinese government
Alleged spy found dead in UK

A British ex-commando accused of spying for the Chinese government has been found dead in “unexplained” circumstances a week after he was charged in court. 

Matthew Trickett was found by a member of the public in a park near his home in Maidenhead on Tuesday, Thames Valley Police said in a statement. Officers attempted to provide emergency treatment, but Trickett was pronounced dead at the scene.

The force described Trickett’s death as “unexplained,” adding that a post-mortem investigation would be carried out “in due course.”

Trickett served in the Royal Marines between 2007 and 2013, before working as an immigration enforcement officer and private security consultant, according to reports in the British media.

The 37-year-old appeared in court in London last week where he was charged with assisting the Hong Kong intelligence service and “agreeing to undertake information gathering, surveillance and acts of deception” against Hong Kong pro-independence activists in the UK. Trickett was charged alongside Bill Yuen Chung-biu, the office manager of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in London, and Peter Wai, a UK Border Force officer with dual British and Chinese citizenship.

Neither Trickett nor his alleged accomplices entered pleas, and all three were released on bail. They were due to appear at the Central Criminal Court again this Friday.

During the initial hearing, prosecutors told judge Louisa Cieciora that Trickett had threatened suicide while in custody, and said that he was “going to kill himself” when released as he “has nothing to live for.”

After the three men were charged, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee condemned the “unwarranted” allegations against his city’s government, while China’s embassy in the UK slammed the “malicious fabrication and unwarranted accusation” against Hong Kong. 

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China and a former British colony. It governs itself autonomously, although Beijing is permitted to conduct certain law enforcement operations in the city, and exerts some influence over its governing executive. 

Protests broke out in 2019 after the city’s legislative council proposed a bill that would allow the extradition of fugitives to mainland China. While Lee withdrew the bill, activists – many of them based in the West – continued advocating for the city’s secession from China. Beijing considers such activism to be illegal separatism.

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