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An American legal scholar and expert on LGBTQ rights said he was denied a visa to teach human rights law at the University of Hong Kong, AFP reported. The scholar, Ryan Thoreson, said he has not been given an explanation for a visa denial: in absence of an explanation, he said it was difficult to know if the denial is related to his current employment as an LGBTQ rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, which regularly criticizes China’s human rights record.

The denial comes amid rising concerns about academic freedom in Hong Kong. Hong Kong immigration officials did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment.