Dozens charged under national security law over pan-dem primaries

Local | 28 Feb 2021 1:06 pm

Forty seven pro-democracy politicians and activists were charged over last year's primaries for the postponed 2020 Legislative Council Election.

That would make them the first ones to face the charge since the law's implementation last June.

None of them were allowed to extend their bail and were detained in police custody overnight until appearing at West Kowloon magistrates’ courts tomorrow morning to face their charge, according to the police.

The 47 were charged with breaching article 22 of the national security law in Hong Kong, which accused them of taking part in conspiracies to subvert state powers, in hopes of abusing their powers stated in the Basic Law after they are elected as legislators.

This came after they were asked to report early to the police station today, weeks ahead of their next scheduled check-in under bail agreements. 

It is assumed that the arrested will be officially charged by the National Security Department of the Police.

Except for former secretary-general of Demosisto, Joshua Wong Chi-fung, and People Power activist “Fast Beat” Tam Tak-chi who are currently in jail, the pan-democrats are initially scheduled to report to the police in April. 

Police arrested a total of 55 pro-democracy politicians and activists under the national security law in January, accusing the group of "subverting state power" by plotting to overthrow the SAR government using the legislature.

Those arrested included former University of Hong Kong legal scholar Benny Tai Yiu-ting who initiated the primaries, and convenor of Power for Democracy, Andrew Chiu Ka-yin who organized them as well as former legislators Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, Leung Kwok-hung, and Lam Cheuk Ting.

The primary election held in July was part of the pan-democratic camp's "35-plus" strategy to select candidates for the LegCo election, originally scheduled to be held last September. 

However, the election was postponed by a year as the government cited public health concerns amid the pandemic. 

The "35-plus" scheme, proposed by Tai, was part of a wider strategy to win at least half of the 70 seats in the Legislative Council. If successful, the camp will be able to gather a powerful force that can block the government's budgets and bill proposals. 

So far, 97 people have been arrested since the enactment of the national security law last June, and eight of them have been prosecuted.  

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