One of the 53 people arrested in Hong Kong on Wednesday, US attorney John Clancey, has been released without charge pending further investigations.
Police were expected to begin releasing the remaining detainees on Thursday, according to local media, following an unprecedented raid of politicians, activists and activists over allegations that conducting a democratic vote violated National Security Law (NSL ) imposed by China. government.
Individuals, which include former legislators, academics, social workers and students, will be released on police bail pending charges and will likely have to report at regular intervals. The arrest of Clancey, a prominent Hong Kong lawyer and US citizen, marked the first use of the National Security Act (NSL) against a foreigner.
Clancey, who is the chairman of the Asian Human Rights Commission and treasurer of a group linked to the Democratic primaries at the center of the allegations, was arrested when police raided the Ho, Tse, Wai and Partners law firm on Wednesday, a source from his law firm told Reuters.
Local media also reported Thursday that activists Joshua Wong, who is already serving a 13-month prison sentence, and Tam Tak Chi, who is on remand, were also arrested again on related charges.
Around 1,000 police officers were mobilized to raid 72 premises and arrest 53 people, including 45 men and eight women, aged 23 to 79 “for subversion of state power”, in what was the largest mass arrest since the introduction of the national security law in June. The number of people arrested for alleged rapes more than doubled, and police did not rule out more arrests.
All 53 were arrested for their participation, including as candidates, in unofficial primaries held last year.
The primaries drew 600,000 Hong Kongers to vote for candidates who campaigned on the promise of “35+”: win a majority in the 70-seat legislature and vote against government bills to force Lam’s resignation.
Authorities suggested at the time and confirmed Wednesday that they considered this an act of subversion under the NSL, which carries life in prison for the most serious crimes.
Alan Leong, a lawyer and member of the Civic Party, called the suggestion “ridiculous in the extreme” and said that the right to vote against the legislation was enshrined in Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law.
On Thursday, pro-system lawmaker Michael Tien and a deputy from China’s National People’s Congress also questioned the allegations.
“They are saying they will oppose everyone [the bills] regardless of content … however, the overriding condition for [the NSL] to be in effect is that they have to use illegal means to achieve it “, he told RTHK radio. “So the question arises how holding a primary is illegal … even the establishment parties have held their own primaries.”
Tien said the NSL probably needs to be redrafted if authorities are only concerned with punishing people on their motives and not on their methodology.
If prosecutors were unable to obtain convictions, it would be a “slap in the face” for the government because it would reveal that they do not understand the law and further divide Hong Kong society, he said.
Veteran activist Lee Cheuk-yan told The Guardian that the arrests were “absurd.” “[The alleged crimes] They are not remotely close to anything related to national security, but they still use the law, ”he said.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism