HONG KONG, Jul 30, 2020, RTHK. Four young students accused of organising and inciting secessionist activities were arrested on Wednesday under the new national security law, RTHK reported.
Senior Superintendent Li Kwai-wah of the police’s newly-formed National Security Department told reporters that three males and one female between the ages of 16 and 21 were arrested in a series of operations spanning Yuen Long, Sha Tin, and Tuen Mun that started in the afternoon.
Li accused the suspects of being involved in posts in an online platform announcing a new group to fight for the establishment of a ‘Hong Kong nation’, as well as declarations that they would use all means necessary to achieve this end, and that they would like to unite all pro-independence groups in Hong Kong.
The offending posts were said to be made after the new law was introduced on July 1, as the law is not retrospective.
The officer said the arrestees are suspected of violating both Article 20 and 21 of the National Security Law, involving secessionist acts, and incitement for others to commit such offences.
Asked whether outsiders who had responded to these allegedly secessionists posts could also face arrest, Li said it depends on whether they had participated in secessionist activities or incited others to do so.
“Just browsing… I don’t think it’s a problem,” he said.
Li said officers are in the beginning stages of their investigation, and refused to name the group involved.
However, the former student group, Studentlocalism – which was disbanded ahead of the imposition of the security law – earlier said in a social media post that its former leader Tony Chung had been arrested at his Yuen Long home.
In footage shared online, a plainclothes officer identifies himself as a member of the new national security department before Chung is escorted to a waiting vehicle with his hands tied behind his back.
Other reports said the group’s former spokesman Ho Nok-hang had also been arrested.
The arrests are the most high profile since the introduction of the new security law, though the law was cited in the arrests of a few protesters on July 1.
Ahead of the media briefing at police headquarters in Wan Chai, four journalists who said they represented online media groups were kicked out, with officers explaining that they weren’t registered with the government’s Information Services Department (ISD).
They said since the briefing is held in a police building, only registered journalists can be present. Other journalists then had their credentials checked before the briefing started.
It’s believed to be the first time that journalists weren’t allowed to report on a police briefing.