US-born lawyer retains religion after HK safety legislation arrest

US-born lawyer keeps faith after HK security law arrest

HONG KONG: John Clancey, a lawyer who has lived and practiced in Hong Kong for decades, has seen the inside of some police stations – but he never thought he would be the one in a cell.

Clancey, a 79-year-old U.S. citizen and former priest, was the first foreigner to be detained under a comprehensive national security law Beijing passed in Hong Kong last year.

“In the past, I have visited detainees and given them legal advice,” he told AFP on Tuesday from his office in the heart of Hong Kong’s main business district. “But this is my first time in custody and in police custody.”

Clancey was one of 55 activists arrested last week for “subversion” – one of the new national security crimes – and later released on bail. “I was very surprised. No fear, no fear,” he recalled before quoting a favorite verse of the Gospel: “In perfect love there is no fear.”

It comes as no surprise that Clancey searches for strength in the Bible. He is a prominent member of the city’s Catholic community and a noted rights activist. His office mug bears a verse from the Romans: “God loves you most”.