State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus on Thursday, described China as a “thuggish regime” for revealing the photographs and personal details of a U.S. diplomat who met with prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activists, according to Reuters.

Ortagus said at an Aug. 8 press conference that it is the job of U.S. diplomats to meet with different people, including opposition leaders.

She also said that this is not only what U.S. diplomats do, but it is something that diplomats from other countries do as well.

In this regard, she assured that China had acted as a “thuggish regime” by leaking private information from the diplomat, including the names of her children.

“That is not how a responsible nation would behave,” she said.

This alludes to the local pro-Beijing Ta Kung Pao newspaper, where a diplomat identified as Julie Eadeh is seen. The photo shows her talking to activists inside a hotel. The report also included information about the diplomat’s relatives.

The photograph appeared under the title: “Foreign Forces Intervene.”

Ortagus did not confirm the identity of the official.

Historic pro-democracy protests

The demonstrations, which have mobilized millions of people, began two months ago after the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region proposed a bill that would allow mainland China to seek extradition of suspects to its territory.

This bill, now suspended but not withdrawn, has generated widespread fears that the Chinese communist regime could transfer anyone at will to be tried in its legal system, which is characterized mainly by its lack of transparency.

On Monday, Aug. 5, the violence escalated with the police firing 800 rounds of tear gas.

According to the Sino-British joint statement adopted when the UK returned Hong Kong to China, it should maintain a “high degree of autonomy” through an independent judiciary, a free press and an open market economy, a framework known as “one country, two systems.”

Over the years, however, China’s communist influence over Hong Kong has grown, with its government and Parliament inclined to favor Beijing. Education, publications, and the media are increasingly under pressure, suggesting that the concerns behind the mass demonstrations are legitimate.

“The ongoing demonstrations in Hong Kong reflect the sentiment of Hongkongers and their broad concerns about the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy,” a State Department representative told The Epoch Times in an email.

“It is not credible to think that millions of people are being manipulated to stand for a free and open society,” she added.

She also mentioned Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent statement that it is “ludicrous” to think the United States is behind the protests.