A professional impersonator of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un said on Wednesday that police in his hometown of Hong Kong arrested him last fall in what he believes was a targeted attack for his open criticism of the Chinese Communist Party.
“I was arrested by the HK [Hong Kong] police at my home on Oct 28th 2020. They had a warrant to search my home because according to them, a BB gun had been posted to my address in April 2020 to which I never actually received,” Howard X revealed in a statement posted to his Facebook page on January 20.
“Around 10 policemen came to raid the apartment and the official reason for the arrest was ‘possession of a firearm without license,'” he wrote.
While BB guns are legal in Hong Kong, Howard said the police told him that the particular air gun mailed to him “had an energy output beyond what was legally allowed and therefore is considered in the same category as a real firearm.”
The impersonator said that after police found “nothing” during their search of his apartment, he was “taken away for processing at the [Hong Kong] airport branch police station.” Law enforcement officials later confiscated Howard’s smartphone, according to his account. The Hong Kong police did not charge Howard with any crimes last fall. Instead, they ordered him to report to the same police station where he was processed on October 28 every six weeks. According to Howard, the law enforcement officials said they may eventually charge him for the alleged illegal firearm possession in the future.
Howard said he has made “satirical appearances” at various anti-China protest events in Hong Kong over the past few years. He believes his presence at rallies supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement since the summer of 2019 drew the attention of pro-Chinese government officials in the city and contributed to his arrest. Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong last summer as part of a larger crackdown on the city’s pro-democracy movement. The law stripped the city of its traditional semi-autonomy and precipitated a spate of arrests of the movement’s leading activists.
Howard said in his Wednesday statement that the Hong Kong police officers who arrested him “indicated that the order came from another department higher up and stated they were just doing their jobs.” He added that the police referenced two specific appearances he made in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters at the city’s IFC mall in 2020.
“In my opinion this was an arbitrary arrest for my satirical critique of the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] government in the years past and this arrest is being used as a tool not only to harass but to also take my finger prints (every person who gets arrested have their prints taken),” Howard wrote in his social media statement.
“It seems so ridiculous … to have up to ten people to come and search my house for a BB gun … something doesn’t seem right,” Howard told the Hong Kong Free Press on January 20.
“I think the situation in Hong Kong for artists who criticize the Chinese Communist Party is they are making sure we are paying a price for our criticism,” he added.
Howard visited Vietnam in February 2019 as part of his most high-profile satirical appearance to date. He flew to the country and staged a parody summit as Kim Jong-un in Hanoi timed to coincide with an official North Korea-U.S. summit attended by the real Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump. The staged appearance upset Vietnamese government authorities, who deported Howard citing his allegedly “invalid” visa.