Hong Kong police have raided the Public Opinion Research Institute (PORI) office in Wong Chuk Hang. The polling organisation is a co-organiser of this weekend’s primary legislative election for the pro-democracy camp.
Officers entered the premises on Friday evening, according to Stand News. The officers said they had a warrant, accusing the organisation of dishonest use of a computer. The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years behind bars.
HKFP noted up to a dozen staff still inside the premises as plainclothes officers moved around the office. A police van remained outside the building.
The primaries are intended to select pro-democracy candidates to run in September’s legislative election. They were organised by law professor Benny Tai, ex-lawmaker Au Nok-hin, the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute and political group Power for Democracy. There are set to be 250 polling stations.
Following the raid, PORI deputy executive Chung Kim-wah said some PCs at the research centre were hacked recently, though he was unsure who accessed the devices.
PORI Executive Director Robert Chung said: “We fear nothing and we do everything under the sun… After our system was attacked by hackers, we will fully cooperate if the police handle the issue impartially.”
On Thursday, Hong Kong’s constitutional affairs minister warned that the upcoming primary election may violate the new Beijing-imposed national security law. “Those who have organised, planned or participated in the primary election should be wary and avoid carelessly violating the law,” Erick Tsang said.
State-run newspaper Wen Wei Po reported on Thursday that a netizen named “Tony Mike” had accused PORI of failing to erase interviewees’ personal data collected from past surveys, claiming that the data had been leaked. Chung denied the claims of a data leak and has said all personal data is erased after six months.
In a poll released by PORI on Friday, it said that 61 per cent of those surveyed believed that Hong Kong was no longer a free city, whilst 32 per cent believed it still was.
Additional reporting: Rachel Wong. Correction 11.7: An earlier version of this report stated that PCs had been seized by police – in fact, officers agreed with PORI staff they would not remove them.