Hong Kong Secretary for Security John Lee has said that the 12 Hongkongers detained in Shenzhen after attempting to flee by boat to Taiwan are involved in seven pending criminal cases in the city.
The seven cases involve allegations of rioting, arson, assaulting the police, and possessing an offensive weapon, Lee wrote in a statement on Monday. One of the cases involved an alleged offence under the national security law.
One of the 12 detainees – pro-democracy activist Andy Li – was arrested on the suspicion of colluding with foreign forces – an offence under the Beijing-imposed security law. Li was amongst those arrested during a mass round-up on August 10.
In his statement, issued only in Chinese, Lee warned that “every person must respect the law and take responsibility for their own actions… Let me stress that anyone who violated the law must bear the legal consequences. Facing it calmly and honestly is way better than carrying the mark of absconding for life,” it read.
Lee added that the Hong Kong government “respected law enforcement in other jurisdictions and will not interfere” with the work of the Shenzhen authorities, saying that it would instead “keep in touch with mainland agencies” on how the cases develop. He also said that the government has offered free legal consultation services to the group’s family members.
In the same statement, Lee called on Taipei to return five Hongkongers who have been held by Taiwanese authorities for two months. Reuters reported on Monday that they had fled the city and were picked up by the Taiwan coastguard.
“We urge Taiwan to take up the responsibility of tackling cross-border crimes. If they have allegedly committed a crime in Hong Kong, don’t harbour the criminals,” the statement read.
The Secretary for Security’s statement follows an announcement by the Shenzhen authorities on Sunday that confirmed that the 12 detainees were being held under criminal detention in their jurisdiction. It was the first official announcement regarding the arrests since they were first detained three weeks ago.
The 12 were arrested on August 23 by Guangdong Maritime Police for allegedly crossing the border illegally. The group had boarded a speedboat in Sai Kung and were headed for Kaohsiung, a port city on Taiwan’s southern coast.