Hong Kong police have arrested the vice-chairwoman of a pro-democracy group that organises the annual 4 June rally to commemorate those who died in the bloody 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, in the latest blow to the opposition movement.
The barrister Chow Hang Tung of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China was arrested at her office in the central business district on Wednesday morning, a witness said.
Her arrest came hours before she was due to represent at a bail hearing the detained opposition politician Gwyneth Ho, who is charged with conspiracy to commit subversion under a Beijing-imposed national security law.
Police sent a letter to the alliance in August requesting information about its membership, finances and activities by 7 September, according to a copy the group sent to reporters.
The letter accused the alliance of being “an agent of foreign forces”. Failure to provide the information by the deadline could result in a HK$100,000 fine and six months in jail, the letter said.
The national security law punishes with up to life in prison what authorities broadly refer to as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
The National Security Department said in a statement late on Tuesday that an organisation had openly expressed it would refuse to provide information. It did not name the group. “Police severely condemn such acts,” it said.
Local broadcaster RTHK said police had arrived at the homes and offices of key alliance members early on Wednesday to make arrests after the group refused to hand over information requested by the force’s national security unit.
Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The alliance leaders Albert Ho and Lee Cheuk-yan are already in jail over their roles in anti-government protests that roiled the city in 2019. The group said in July that it had laid off staff members to ensure their safety and that half of its committee members had resigned.