Former UK soldier charged with spying for Hong Kong found dead

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A former Royal Marine who was charged this month with assisting intelligence services in Hong Kong has died in unexplained circumstances, British police said on Tuesday.

Matthew Trickett, 37, was one of three men granted bail at a May 13 court hearing after each being charged with two offences under Britain’s National Security Act.

The charges, which were brought under new legislation that widened the scope of what counts as spying, followed an investigation by the counter terrorism division of London’s Metropolitan Police.

Thames Valley Police on Tuesday said Trickett was found dead in a park in Maidenhead, west of London, on Sunday after a report from a member of the public.

The police added “an investigation is ongoing into the death, which is currently being treated as unexplained”.

Trickett, a former Royal Marine who had also worked for the UK Border Force and was reportedly the director of a security consultancy, was due to appear at the Old Bailey criminal court for a hearing on Friday.

The other two men who were charged — Chi Leung (Peter) Wai, 38, from Staines and Chung Biu Yuen, 63, from east London — were also due to appear in court.

They stand accused of agreeing to undertake information gathering, surveillance and acts of deception likely to materially assist a foreign intelligence service.

The Met this month said the foreign intelligence service to which the charges related was that of Hong Kong.

Prosecutors also alleged the three men forced entry into a UK residential address.

Hong Kong authorities have confirmed Yuen was the office manager of the Hong Kong economic and trade office in London.

The case comes amid simmering tensions between China and the UK, with British officials issuing warnings about security threats from Beijing — including cyber attacks targeting politicians and the country’s electoral watchdog.

An alleged Chinese hack that accessed the data of hundreds of thousands of UK Ministry of Defence staff was reported this month.

Britain’s foreign ministry summoned China’s ambassador on May 14 to state espionage and cyber attacks were unacceptable on UK soil.

Chinese authorities have dismissed the UK accusations as “groundless and slanderous” and said Britain had no right to interfere in Hong Kong’s affairs.

Julian Hayes, Trickett’s lawyer, said he was “shocked” at the news and was supporting his family.

In a statement, Trickett’s family said: “We are mourning the loss of a much-loved son, brother and family man.”


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