Police still holding four activists under new lawTop News | Erin Chan 31 Jul 2020
Former Studentlocalism convener Tony Chung Hon-lam and three former members - aged 16 to 21 - remained detained by police a day after they were arrested on suspicion of secession under the national security law.
It comes as Honcques Laus - also known as Laus Hon and another ex-Studentlocalism member - said he sought political asylum in Britain at the end of June.
Police arrested Chung and girlfriend Yanni Ho Yan-nok, Chan Wai-jin and former spokesman Ho Nok-hang. They were detained at Tin Sum, Ma On Shan, Yuen Long and Tuen Mun police stations yesterday.
They were arrested in Yuen Long, Tuen Mun and Sha Tin on Wednesday night for allegedly publishing content about secession and inciting others to commit secession on social media earlier this month.
Police said their action breached two articles of the national security law, which bans secession and its incitement, and the offer of financial assistance to those advocating it. Those convicted face up to life in prison.
Senior superintendent Steve Li Kwai-wah of the national security department said the suspects were involved in an online post that declares the establishment of a group that promotes the pro-independence ideology, achieving this end at all costs and building a "republic of Hong Kong."
While he did not name the group, it is believed he was referring to the Initiative Independence Party, which was founded by former Studentlocalism members who have completed their studies and are now based overseas.
The post, released on Facebook on July 21, said: "Building a republic of Hong Kong that is solely sovereign to Hong Kong nationals is our only way out."
Officers also seized mobile phones, laptops and documents in the suspects' homes.
Laus, 18, who is the convener of the Hongkonger Utilitarian Party, said on Facebook yesterday that he feared persecution under the national security law as he protested with a banner reading "Hong Kong Independence" while he was still a secondary student.
"Since then, I have been subject to politically motivated arrest, prosecution and imprisonment by the Hong Kong government," he said.
He said he has become a "politically targeted" person as he published a pro-independence book and visited the British and the US consulates last July to request the two countries to impose sanctions against some pro-Beijing politicians.
Laus said Haven Assistance, a group set up by ex-British consulate staff Simon Cheng Man-kit, has been assisting him in the political asylum process and arranging a solicitor for him.
Studentlocalism ceased local operations on June 30, hours before the Beijing-imposed national security law came into effect. Chung also renounced his role on the same day.