The Hong Kong police national security unit has taken over an investigation into a mother and son arrested on suspicion of selling weapons on social media, saying the pair may have “incited secession.”

Police detained the man, 23, and his mother, 49, for allegedly possessing arms and importing strategic commodities without a license, punishable by up to 14 years and seven years in prison respectively.

Steve Li. Photo: NowTV screenshot.

Officers raided their home in Fanling on Thursday, where they found a pepper ball gun, an expandable baton, three air guns, a bullet-proof vest, two knives and 15 respirators.

The force said the pair had bought the weapons from overseas shopping sites and imported them to Hong Kong using bulk shipments. The suspects later allegedly sold the weapons on social media platforms and posted pro-independence messages as well as calls to “resist” the Chinese Communist Party.

New police warning banner that cautions against behaviour that may breach the national security law. Photo: Studio Incendo.

Senior Superintendent Steve Li of the new security unit said such acts might constitute inciting secession, an offence under the national security law, imposed by Beijing on June 30. The controversial legislation also criminalises subversion, collusion with foreign forces and terrorism, broadly defined to include disruption to transport and other infrastructure.

“What worried us was [the suspects] wrote they had used some weapons during an illegal march in Kowloon on September 6, and had hurled them at a police cordon. They claimed they would use more powerful weapons against us,” Li said.

Police pepper ball gun. Photo: May James/HKFP.

Li said police would investigate whether the suspects planned to use the weapons in activities promoting Hong Kong independence. But the force said the online messages alone, which “spread hate” and advocated independence, would fulfil the criteria of inciting secession.

He said the offence of incitement was also applicable in the cyber world.

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Kelly Ho

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.