Six arrested in Hong Kong under new security law for alleged ‘seditious’ online messages

A police probe discovered that Chow Hang-tung, vice-chairwoman of a now-defunct pro-democracy organisation, with the assistance of other accused parties, had been publishing an array of posts on social media.


Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung speaks during the second reading of the proposed Safeguarding National Security Ordinance at the Legislative Council in Hong Kong on March 19, 2024. PHOTO: CHINA DAILY

May 29, 2024

HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Police Force arrested six people — one of whom was already in custody — on Tuesday under the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance for allegedly publishing seditious content online.

Five women and one man, aged between 37 and 65 years old, were held during a law enforcement operation, according to the Police Force’s National Security Department.

Among the arrestees was Chow Hang-tung, vice-chairwoman of the now-defunct Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China. Chow is currently serving a sentence following a conviction related to an unauthorized assembly in 2021.

The six suspects are accused of having committed offenses with seditious intent under the ordinance, which was enacted on March 23.

A police probe discovered that since April, Chow, with the assistance of other accused parties, had been publishing an array of posts on a social media page.

According to police statements, the intention behind these posts was to stir up public hatred for the central government, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government, and the judiciary. The posts also attempted to incite netizens to organize or participate in illegal activities, police said.

With a court warrant, police searched the residences of five suspects and seized items such as electronic communications devices believed to have been used to publish the inciting messages.

At a media briefing on Tuesday evening, Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung said that the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance only targets those who act with the intention of endangering national security.

He assured that the residents’ freedom of speech — including their fact-based criticism of the government — is protected under the Basic Law, the National Security Law for Hong Kong, and two international human rights covenants.

However, Tang stressed that the online content in question crossed the threshold of normal criticism, and was intended to incite actions endangering public safety, public order and national security.

The police operation was evidence-based and in strict adherence to the law, he said.

The authorities’ decisive action to safeguard the security of Hong Kong and the country is in line with practices around the world, he added.

Under the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance, people who commit offenses with seditious intent face a maximum of seven years’ imprisonment.

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