HONG KONG, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam scrapped a scheduled meeting with U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, the highest profile U.S. politician to visit the city since anti-government protests broke out more than four months ago, the senator said on Saturday.
Lam had requested that the afternoon meeting be completely confidential and Cruz refrain from speaking with the media about it, Cruz told journalists in Hong Kong.
"She seems to misunderstand how free speech operates, and also how freedom of the press operates," said Cruz, a Republican senator from Texas.
"Ms. Lam's cancelling the meeting is not a sign of strength. It's a sign of weakness. It's a sign of fear of the protesters in the streets of Hong Kong."
Lam's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the canceled meeting.
Cruz, a vocal China critic who was stopping by Hong Kong for two days as part of a region-wide tour, was wearing black to show that he stands with the protesters in the Chinese-ruled city.
Street protests, filled often with black-clad people, started against a proposed extradition bill earlier this year but have escalated since June and morphed into a wider movement for democracy and against police violence.
(Reporting by John Ruwitch; Writing by Noah Sin Editing by Frances Kerry)