Hong Kong court grants bail to arrested pro-democracy activists


Majority of the 55 pro-democracy Hong Kong politicians and activists who were arrested this week in a sweeping national security crackdown have been granted bail without any charges laid against them, authorities said on Friday.

Of those arrested, only three were denied bail. They are activists Joshua Wong and Tam Tak-chi, who were already in jail on separate charges, and former Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi Wai.

Wong is currently serving time for organising and inciting people to join the siege of Wan Chai police headquarters in the 2019’s unrest, while Tam, who faces sedition charges, is in prison awaiting trial in May.

Wu is still remanded as the court on Friday revoked bail granted to him in an earlier case after finding that he had failed to surrender his British National Overseas passport.

The mass arrests on Wednesday were the largest crackdown on Hong Kong’s democracy movement since the law was imposed by China last June to quell dissent in the semi-autonomous territory.

The activists were reportedly held under the national security law over accusations they “subverted state power” by holding primaries in July to choose a candidate for the Legislative Council.

Police said none of the activists arrested Wednesday on suspicion of subversion under the security law had been formally charged.

Former pro-democracy lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting told reporters that determinations of whether to formally prosecute people in Hong Kong are not based on evidence, but on a “political decision” by officials.

“They haven’t made any charges against us yet,” said Lam, who was among those arrested on Wednesday. “But I’m quite sure that they will charge some of us sooner or later, whether they have sufficient evidence or not.”

He said the purpose of the arrests was to silence Hong Kong’s people and create a “chilling effect.”

Separately, three people were sentenced to up to 5-and-a-half years in prison on Friday for rioting at Hong Kong’s airport and assaulting a Chinese journalist in August 2019 at the height of the protests.

Protesters blockaded the city’s airport for two days. Some turned on individuals they believed were spies or undercover police, and a reporter from China’s state-owned Global Times newspaper was tied up and attacked by a group of protesters. (Source: CNA)