Hong Kong police charge 47 activists with national security crime

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Hong Kong authorities on Sunday charged 47 opposition activists and democrats with conspiracy to commit subversion under the city’s draconian national security law, in the largest single crackdown on the democratic opposition.

Hong Kong police said in a statement, they have charged 47 people, each with a count of “conspiracy to commit subversion”. The accused will appear in court on Monday morning, the statement added.

Those charged were among the 53 who were arrested last month for organizing, planning and participating in a primary election aimed at selecting the strongest candidates for a legislative council election.

The democrats were detained and questioned after a dawn raid on Jan. 6, and some had their mobile phones and computers confiscated then released pending further investigations.

Sam Cheung, a young activist and a participant in an unofficial primary election last summer, was among those arrested and was charged after reporting to a local police station, dressed in a black mask and accompanied by his wife.

“Hong Kongers have a really tough time these days,” he told reporters before entering the station. “I hope everyone won’t give up on Hong Kong … (and) fight on.”

“My chance of bail won’t be too great,” wrote Benny Tai in an earlier social media post. He was also charged and accused by Chinese authorities of being a key tactician for the movement in the former British colony.

Those also called in by Hong Kong police include a group of younger “resistance camp” democratic activists including Lester Shum, Sam Cheung, Ventus Lau and Fergus Leung.

The democrats denounced the arrests as political persecution for the informal, peaceful poll that drew 600,000 votes in a city of 7.5 million.

A rights advocacy group, called Power for Democracy, that co-organised the primary elections, said in a Facebook post it has disbanded.

The Hong Kong police say 99 people have been arrested for suspected violations of the security laws so far.

Some of these have been denied bail, including media mogul and prominent China critic Jimmy Lai, despite protracted legal appeals.

The sweeping national security laws – seen by critics as a threat to Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy – punish acts of subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorism with possible life imprisonment. (Source: CNA)

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