Chinese authorities have officially prosecuted ten of the 12 Hong Kong pro-democracy activists who have been detained in the mainland for over three months.

The Shenzhen Yantian District People’s Procuratorate announced on Wednesday that Tang Kai-yin and Quinn Moon will face trial for allegedly organising others to cross the border illegally.

Save 12 youths concern group
Family members and activists hold a press conference on December 12, 2020. Photo: Save 12 Hong Kong Youths, via Telegram.

The eight others – Cheng Tsz-ho, Yim Man-him, Cheung Ming-yu, Cheung Chun-fu, Wong Wai-yin, Li Tsz-yin, Andy Li Yu-hin and Kwok Tsz-lun were prosecuted for crossing the border illegally.

The authorities said a non-open trial hearing will be held in due course for two suspects in the case who are under the age of 18.

The group was captured by Chinese coastguards on August 23 while trying to flee to Taiwan on a speedboat. Most of them were facing criminal charges in Hong Kong for offences linked to last year’s anti-extradition bill protests.

Andy Li was was arrested on August 10 on suspicion of breaching the Beijing-imposed national security law by colluding with foreign forces. The sweeping legislation also outlaws secession, subversion and terrorist acts.

protest bricks "August 24, 2019"
A photo of frontline protesters taken at a protest on August 24, 2019. Photo: Studio Incendo.

Family members have urged the Chinese authorities to grant them access to the 12 detainees. They also called on the Hong Kong government to bring back the group, but local officials said they would not interfere with law enforcement operations in another jurisdiction.

Last Saturday, some family members claimed they received a letter from one detainee asking them to go to a Hong Kong court and admit to their alleged crimes on their behalf.

Some also claimed the Hongkongers in custody did not receive any letters from their families, while another family said they were informed by the Bank of China that their detained family member’s account would be cancelled owing to “commercial executive reasons.”

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Ho Long Sze Kelly is a Hong Kong-based journalist covering politics, criminal justice, human rights, social welfare and education. As a Senior Reporter at Hong Kong Free Press, she has covered the aftermath of the 2019 extradition bill protests and the Covid-19 pandemic extensively, as well as documented the transformation of her home city under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

Kelly has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration. Prior to joining HKFP in 2020, she was on the frontlines covering the 2019 citywide unrest for South China Morning Post’s Young Post. She also covered sports and youth-related issues.