Hong Kong has made its 100th arrest under the National Security Law imposed on the former British colony by China last year, while dozens of democracy advocates yesterday returned to court for a mass bail hearing before their trial on subversion charges.
Former Next Digital executive director Stephen Ting (丁家裕) was detained on fraud allegations, the Oriental Daily newspaper reported, citing people it did not identify.
Police issued a statement late on Tuesday confirming the arrest of a 61-year-old man “after in-depth investigation by national security department.”
They did not name the person or his affiliation with Next Digital.
As of Tuesday, 100 people have been arrested on suspicion of activities harming national security, police said in a separate statement yesterday.
The accused include 83 male suspects and 17 female suspects, ages 16 to 79, police said.
One of the most high-profile operations under the security law involved the arrest of 55 opposition figures in January. They were rounded up for taking part in an unofficial primary election and accused of trying to gain a majority in the Hong Kong Legislative Council to paralyze the government.
Forty-seven of those people were attending a third day of arraignment hearings to decide whether they would receive bail before their subversion trial. The defendants included some of the territory’s most prominent democracy advocates such as Joshua Wong (黃之鋒), Benny Tai (戴耀廷) and Jimmy Sham (岑子傑), and most have objected to government requests to keep them in jail while also delaying further proceedings until at least May 31.
The case comes before an annual meeting of the Chinese National People’s Congress opens in Beijing tomorrow, with senior officials calling for lawmakers to overhaul Hong Kong’s election system to further diminish the influence of pro-democracy politicians.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) plans to travel to Beijing to attend the opening ceremony.
Before the hearing started yesterday, the owner of a local diner brought food and drinks to supporters of the defendants outside the courthouse.
“I want to support the people here,” Cheong Wong said. “This is the least I can do.”
Amnesty International Hong Kong was critical of the hearing on Monday, which started at 11am and ended about 3am the following day when one defendant fainted.
Three others went to the hospital after saying they felt unwell, local media reported.
An extended hearing “along with insufficient time to rest could potentially violate the right to a fair trial, and such a violation could warrant legitimate grounds for an appeal,” Amnesty International Hong Kong program manager Lam Cho Ming (林祖明) said. “Fair trial rights demand that there must be adequate time and facilities to prepare the defense.”
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