Hong Kong Police Arrest Four Men Accused of Aiding Overseas Activists
11:59 JST, July 6, 2023
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong national security police on Wednesday arrested four men it accused of supporting overseas dissidents and of advocating for independence from China, two days after issuing warrants and bounties against several foreign-based activists.
The four men “were suspected of receiving funds from operating companies, social platforms and mobile applications to support people who have fled overseas and continue to engage in activities that endanger national security,” the National Security Department of the Hong Kong Police said in a statement.
The statement did not specifically link the arrests to eight warrants issued earlier this week for prominent foreign-based dissidents. Local media, citing unnamed sources, connected the arrested men to an online platform known as “Punish Mee” that was allegedly used to provide financial aid to the eight wanted overseas activists.
The police statement cited “suspicion of conspiracy to collude with foreign forces and acts with seditious intent” and said the men were suspected of breaking the National Security Law, imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing in 2020 following an outbreak of democracy demonstrations.
“They were also suspected of repeatedly publishing posts with seditious intention on social media platforms, including content which provoked hatred towards the Central Authorities(China) and the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and advocated “Hong Kong independence,” the police statement said.
The statement did not give the names of the detainees.
A Reuters witness saw Ivan Lam, the former chairman of the now disbanded pro-democracy group Demosisto, taken into a police van from an industrial building in Hong Kong’s Kwai Chung District on Wednesday.
Two sources with knowledge of the situation told Reuters Lam was among the four arrested men mentioned in the police statement.
Police said they searched the detainees’ homes and offices with a court warrant and seized some related documents and electronic communication devices.
Police added the men were being detained for further enquiries and did not rule out further arrests.
Authorities have offered bounties of HK$1 million ($128,000) each for information leading to the arrest of the eight overseas activists.
Demosisto was led by now-jailed democracy activist Joshua Wong along with one of the eight wanted overseas activists, Nathan Law. It was disbanded in 2020, hours after China’s parliament passed the national security legislation.
The overseas activists are based in several countries, including the United States, Britain and Australia.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Wednesday it was “unacceptable” that Hong Kong has put bounties on two Australian residents.
Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee said on Tuesday that the eight would be “pursued for life.”
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