Chinese Media Spread Fake News That Western Man Arrested in Hong Kong Is CIA Agent

September 1, 2019 Updated: September 2, 2019

Footage of a man who appeared to be an American being placed under arrest inside a Hong Kong subway station on the evening of Aug. 31 has gone viral amid growing allegations of police brutality, during another weekend in a city rocked by protests.

Since then, Chinese media has spread reports that the man is suspected of being a CIA “commander” in Hong Kong, in line with Chinese propaganda that the protests have been incited by “foreign forces.”

“What charge is this? Otherwise, it is unlawful!” the man, wearing a T-shirt and cargo shorts, shouts in one video as he is escorted away by riot police at the Lai King subway station.

“This is Hong Kong, this is not China!” he said in an earlier video, while surrounded by at least five riot police officers.

In that video, the officers manage to wrestle him to the ground, as he repeatedly shouts, “Do you agree with the rule of law?” Police then appear to restrain his hands behind his back with a zip tie.

Footage of the incident and its lead-up, captured by The Epoch Times, appears to show that the man was arrested after he refused to use another exit from the platform, as directed by police.

During the incident, police told an Epoch Times reporter at the scene, “We are investigating,” without providing further details.

The man, who wasn’t identified, spoke with what was described as an American accent. In a video by The Epoch Times earlier shows that the same man can be seen in a subway car speaking loudly to other passengers.

In that video, he said he’s been living in Hong Kong for 24 years and was on his way to his home, which is close to the Lai King subway station.

‘Why Does Beijing Want to Hurt You?’

“Why does Beijing want to hurt Hong Kong people,” the man said to other subway passengers. “Why does Beijing want to hurt you?”

The man also criticized the Chinese regime for not fulfilling its pledge of allowing Hong Kong autonomy, under the framework known as “one country, two systems,” when it reverted from British rule in 1997.

“Why do they [Beijing] want to take away what they promised? They promised a high degree of autonomy.”

Less than a day after the incident, reports circulated on Chinese media that the man is suspected of being a CIA “commander” in Hong Kong.

Popular Chinese news portal NetEase, as well as several other Chinese outlets, re-reported a news video by Chinese self-media Prism News, which alleged that the man is a CIA agent whose Chinese name is Bao Weizhong. Local media Hong Kong Phoenix Television also published the report on its website, but it was later taken down without an explanation. 

The news video appears to attribute the information to a social media post by a Chinese netizen.

The video also shows an image of a card that says “Press” and “Sveriges Radio” at the top, presented as the man in the video’s identity. The card contains a photo of the cardholder, who is identified as Martin Svenningsen. Sveriges Radio is Sweden’s public radio broadcaster.

Svenningsen couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Hong Kong police didn’t respond to questions from The Epoch Times about the man’s arrest as of press time.

The Chinese regime has launched an extensive social media disinformation campaign against the protesters in Hong Kong, including narratives that the protests are the work of “terrorists,” fomented by Western powers and “radical forces.”

Many of the Chinese news outlets that carried the report said it was “solid evidence” that U.S. authorities are behind the protests.

Recently, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube suspended hundreds of accounts linked to a Chinese regime-backed information operation seeking to undermine the Hong Kong protest movement.