Hong Kong arrests 291 for endangering national security in past 4 years

Those arrested range from 15 to 90 years old, the government says.
By Cheryl Tung for RFA Cantonese
2024.04.18
Hong Kong arrests 291 for endangering national security in past 4 years On May 11, 2022, Cardinal Joseph Zen, who was 90 years old at the time, was taken into custody by the police at a monastery in Chai Wan. Later that night, he was released on bail and left the Western District Police Station. The picture shows him waving to people when leaving the Western District Police Station.
Galileo Cheng/HK Frontline Media

Hong Kong has arrested 291 people for endangering national security in the near four years since the city’s first national security law took effect. They range from 15 to 90 years old, according to the Hong Kong Security Bureau.

The data revealed come as the bureau was asked by lawmakers about the authorities’ expenditure used to explain to the public the legislation for the second national security law, commonly known as Article 23, which was passed last month. 

While the government didn’t disclose the expenditure, it stated in its written response to the Legislative Council (LegCo) that “smear campaigns” against the legislation are still occurring and the “Response and Refutation Team” therefore will continue to operate.

LegCo is holding a special Finance Committee meeting this week to review government expenditure in 2024/25. 

In its response, the security bureau said that as of March 8, its hotline had received more than 700,000 reports related to national security. In addition, as of December last year, among the 10,279 people arrested in connection with the 2019 anti-extradition related movement, 35 people were wanted by the court for failing to attend court hearings and 26 people released on bail failed to report to the police.

90-year-old Cardinal and 15-year-old student arrested

Until March 8, among the 291 arrested, 218 were men and 73 women, between 15 and 90 years old. More than 170 people and five companies have been prosecuted, and 112 people have been convicted and sentenced or are awaiting sentencing.

The oldest arrested was 90-year-old Cardinal Joseph Zen, the former Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Hong Kong, while the youngest was a 15-year-old secondary school student. 

In May 2022, the National Security Division of the Hong Kong Police arrested five trustees of the defunct “612 Humanitarian Support Fund,” including the then 90-year-old Cardinal Zen, on suspicion of violating the “collusion with foreign forces” rule under the National Security Law. 

Less than a year earlier in September 2021, the same division arrested seven members of the organization “Light City People,” charging them with “conspiracy to commit terrorist activities.” The then 15-year-old student, among this group, pleaded guilty and was imprisoned for six years.

The government’s written document did not disclose the conviction rate of cases involving the national security law, but past reports show that the conviction rate of cases after trial is 100%, and the maximum sentence is nine years in jail.

Translated by RFA staff. Edited by Mike Firn.

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