The Financial Times Asia news editor, Victor Mallet speaks during a luncheon at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong. On Nov 9, Mallet was denied entry into Hong Kong, a month after he was forced to leave the autonomous Chinese city. File picture: Pool Photo via AP

Hong Kong - Financial Times Asia editor Victor Mallet was denied entry into Hong Kong late Thursday, a month after he was forced to leave the autonomous Chinese city when the government declined to renew his work visa, the newspaper said.

The British journalist, who was trying to enter with a tourist visa, was "was turned away at the border after several hours of questioning by immigration officers," the Financial Times reported.

Mallet was denied a work visa renewal in October without explanation although it is widely believed to be believed to have been a punishment for chairing a talk a pro-independence activist at the Foreign Correspondents' Club (FCC) in August.

In a letter to Hong Kong's leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, 17 of the club's former presidents renewed calls on Thursday for an official explanation as to why Mallet was denied the work visa.

The group said it was "deeply concerned with this action, taken with no stated or apparent legal basis" in the first incident of its kind against a journalist since Hong Kong returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

They also said that "absent any public explanation from Hong Kong authorities, we can only surmise this unprecedented action was official retribution against the FCC" for hosting the activist.

Hong Kong's immigration department has stated previously that it does not comment on individual cases. 

Lam has held a similar line, most recently in Japan last week where she was asked about Mallet, and says the city continues to champion free speech.