Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong arrested under national security law


Wong was already in prison, serving a 13.5-month sentence for his role in protests during the 2019 pro-democracy protest movement. On Thursday, an article posted on Wong’s verified Facebook page said he had been transferred from prison to a detention center, where police questioned him.

An assistant who managed Wong’s social media accounts confirmed his arrest to CNN.

The message alleged that Wong’s attorney was unable to reach him when the police took statements. CNN has contacted Hong Kong Police for comment.

Wong’s arrest is the latest to come under the auspices of Beijing’s new national security law, which on Wednesday saw the arrest of 53 police officers in dawn raids on democracy activists in across town.

The law criminalizes acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, and carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. These vague parameters have given authorities sweeping powers to crack down on opponents of the government as Beijing continues to tighten control over the semi-autonomous city.

Hong Kong officials had previously promised that the law would be limited in its effects and target only a small number of fringe activists. However, critics claim that since its introduction, the law has been used to forcibly eradicate the city’s once vibrant pro-democracy movement.

A total of 53 people were arrested on Wednesday for the crime of “subverting state power”, police said. Of them, six were arrested for organizing and planning informal primary elections last July ahead of the city’s Legislative Council elections, while the remaining 47 were arrested for participating in the event.

Primary elections are a normal function in democracies around the world. At the time of the vote in Hong Kong, the United States Democratic primary, won by President-elect Joe Biden, was still underway.

Hong Kong pro-democracy activists have staged such votes in the past, in an attempt to match the organization and discipline of the rival pro-Beijing camp and avoid fragmented support.

City Security Secretary John Lee said on Wednesday primary election organizers were seeking to “cripple the Hong Kong government” by winning a majority in the legislature.

Legislative elections were eventually postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but not before several candidates were disqualified and warnings were issued that those who participated in the primary could break the security law.

Of the 53 people arrested on Wednesday, 52 are now on bail, but must turn in their travel documents and report to police again in early February, police told CNN.

The latest activist, former pro-democracy lawmaker Wu Chi-wai, was arraigned on Thursday after police said he failed to hand over all travel documents during a bail application in a previous case.

Lester Shum, a district councilor who was among those released on bail, called the mass arrest “ridiculous”.

“I think this is absurd because he does not claim to have said something after participating in the Legislative Council elections. It just accuses me of subversion because we all participated in the democratic primary,” he said. declared.

US lawyer John Clancey, who was released on bail without charge, was also among those arrested. A partner in a Hong Kong law firm, Clancey was also treasurer of Power for Democracy, a pro-democracy group in Hong Kong that co-hosted the electoral primaries.

With the arrests and a security law, who is left to fight for democracy in Hong Kong?

His US passport was confiscated by police, he told CNN on Thursday. His firm, HO TSE WAI & Partners, was also raided by police on Thursday, according to his partner. Clancey is the first foreign citizen without a passport from Hong Kong to be arrested under the National Security Act.

The mass arrests have been strongly condemned by several countries. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced that the United States will consider sanctions in response to the arrests, specifically highlighting Clancey’s arrest. “I am also appalled by the news of the arrest of an American citizen as part of this campaign of political repression,” he said in a statement. “The United States supports the people of Hong Kong and all who aspire to freedom.”

Other governments have also expressed criticism and concerns over the arrests, including the UK, the European Union and Taiwan.

“The National Security Law is used to crush dissent and stifle the exercise of human rights and political freedoms which are protected by Hong Kong Basic Law, as well as by international law and obligations and commitments international officials from China, “European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said on Wednesday, adding that the EU called for the” immediate release “of those arrested.

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