In the city of Hong Kong, according to a report from Reuters, On Wednesday, the Hong Kong national security police apprehended four individuals whom they have accused of assisting dissidents residing abroad and promoting the idea of independence from China. This action comes just two days after the police issued warrants and offered rewards for arresting various activists based outside of Hong Kong.
According to a statement from the National Security Department of the Hong Kong Police, the four individuals were suspected of receiving funds from operating companies, social platforms, and mobile applications. These funds were allegedly used to support individuals who fled overseas and are involved in activities threatening national security.
The statement failed to establish a direct connection between the arrests and the eight warrants issued earlier this week for well-known dissidents residing in foreign countries. According to undisclosed sources referenced by local media, the apprehended individuals have been linked to an online platform called “Punish Mee.” This platform supposedly facilitated the provision of financial assistance to the eight sought-after activists located abroad.
According to the police statement, the individuals in question are being accused of engaging in activities involving collaborating with foreign entities and engaging in acts intending to incite sedition. These actions are believed to violate the National Security Law, which was implemented in Hong Kong by Beijing in 2020 in response to a series of pro-democracy protests.
According to the police statement, the individuals in question were also accused of repeatedly disseminating posts on various social media platforms. These posts were believed to have been created to incite sedition. The content of these posts allegedly aimed to generate hatred towards the Central Authorities of China and the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Furthermore, these posts claimed to have advocated for “Hong Kong independence.”
The statement did not provide the names of the detainees.
On Wednesday, Ivan Lam, the former chairman of Demosisto, a pro-democracy group that has since been disbanded, was observed by a Reuters witness being escorted into a police van. This incident occurred at an industrial building in Hong Kong’s Kwai Chung District.
According to two sources familiar with the matter, as reported by Reuters, Lam is identified as one of the four individuals apprehended, as stated by the police.
According to law enforcement officials, a thorough search was conducted at the residences and workplaces of the detainees, authorized by a court warrant. Various pertinent documents and electronic communication devices were lawfully seized during the search.
The individuals were placed under police custody to conduct additional investigations. The authorities have not ruled out the possibility of making additional arrests.
BOUNTIES The authorities have issued bounties amounting to HK$1 million ($128,000) each as rewards for individuals who provide information that leads to the apprehension of the eight activists residing abroad.
Demosisto was under the leadership of Joshua Wong, a democracy activist currently incarcerated, and Nathan Law, one of the eight overseas activists being sought by authorities. The organization was dissolved in 2020, shortly after China’s parliament approved the national security legislation.
The overseas activists are in multiple countries, namely the United States, Britain, and Australia.
On Wednesday, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed his disapproval of the actions taken by Hong Kong, stating that it is deemed “unacceptable” for them to have placed bounties on two individuals who are Australian residents.
On Tuesday, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee expressed that the eight individuals would face lifelong pursuit.