British Hong Kong consulate employee released from detention as pro-democracy protests turn violent

The British Consulate employee detained in China after being accused of soliciting a prostitute while on a business trip has finally been released, his family said in a statement Saturday.

Simon Cheng Man-Kit, 28, was reportedly released following a 15-day detention after Chinese officials accused the Hong Kong resident of violating a public order while on a business trip in the neighboring city of Shenzhen.

FAMILY OF DETAINED BRITISH HONG KONG CONSULATE EMPLOYEE SLAMS ‘JOKE’ PROSTITUTION ALLEGATIONS 

“Thank you for all your concern for Simon, he has returned to Hong Kong safely and is in the company of Consulate staff and friends,”  the translation of a statement posted to a Facebook page that appeared to be run by his family read.

This photo provided by Wilson Li shows Simon Cheng Man-kit, second from left, a resident of Hong Kong. (Wilson Li via AP)

This photo provided by Wilson Li shows Simon Cheng Man-kit, second from left, a resident of Hong Kong. (Wilson Li via AP)

“He has no external injury. Please let Simon rest, he and his family will not take any form of interview for the moment,” the statement continued.

Reports emerged days after news of Cheng’s arrest that he was detained after breaking a law regarding “solicitation of prostitution,” a claim the family slammed as a fabricated “joke.”

BRITISH HONG KONG CONSULATE EMPLOYEE SOLICITED A PROSTITUTE, CHINES MEDIA CLAIMS

Cheng works as a trade and investment officer with the Scottish Development International section of the consulate. His arrest was seen by many as a part of the ongoing rift between mainland China and Hong Kong as pro-democracy demonstrators continue to protest for political reform and police brutality.

The movement, which had been particularly calm over the past two weeks, erupted into violence Saturday as protesters hurled bricks and gasoline bombs at police who responded with tear gas.

Police and demonstrators clash during a protest in Hong Kong, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019. Chinese police said Saturday they released an employee at the British Consulate. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Police and demonstrators clash during a protest in Hong Kong, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019. Chinese police said Saturday they released an employee at the British Consulate. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Hundreds of black-clad protesters armed with bamboo poles and baseball bats fought with police officers wielding batons on a main road following a march against "smart lampposts" that was sparked by surveillance fears.

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The chaotic scenes unfolded outside a police station and a nearby shopping mall as officers in riot gear faced off with protesters who set up makeshift street barricades.

The protests began in June with calls to drop a now-suspended extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to be sent to China to stand trial, then widened to include free elections for the city's top leader and an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.