Hong Kong activist Andy Li, who was released from Chinese prison on Monday after serving seven months for an “illegal border crossing,” has been officially charged under the national security law.

Police said on Wednesday that officers from the national security bureau decided to press three charges against the 30-year-old, including collusion with foreign powers, conspiracy to assist an offender and possession of ammunition without a licence.

Andy Li
Andy Li. Photo: Screenshot via Youtube.

Li’s case was mentioned at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts, but he was not present as he is currently under a two-week Covid-19 mandatory quarantine following his arrival from Shenzhen.

Chinese authorities handed over the activist and seven other fugitives to the Hong Kong police on Monday. They were among a group of 12 captured by the Chinese coastguard last August while trying to flee to Taiwan in a speedboat. Most of them were facing criminal charges in Hong Kong related to the 2019 anti-extradition bill protests.

The dozen Hongkongers were detained in Shenzhen for over three months before they were convicted and sentenced last December. A mainland court put Li and seven defendants in jail for seven months for crossing the border illegally, while two received heavier penalties of two and three years behind bars for organising an illegal border crossing.

Two minor defendants were sent back to Hong Kong without charge last December after admitting wrongdoing. Police said the minors may face additional charges for allegedly fleeing the city.

12 detainees
A minivan believed to be carrying one of the eight Hongkongers arrives in Tin Shui Wai Police Station on March 22, 2021. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

The cases of seven activists returned on Monday were heard in several local courts on Tuesday. Like Li, none of them attended the hearings as they are being quarantined under the supervision of the Correctional Services Department.

The Save 12 Hong Kong Youths concern group told HKFP that they had no information on Li’s prosecution: “We receive all the information through [the media], because [police] didn’t talk to families about the arrangement.”

The group’s representative and barrister Chow Hang-tung slammed police on Monday as being “secretive” about the handover, saying the force did not inform the activists’ family members beforehand about the arrangement.

As of Tuesday night, four defendants had not contacted their families, according to the concern group: “Family members feel deeply resigned and worried. The concern group urges the authorities not to make unnecessary obstruction again.”

Li is set to appear in court again on March 31.

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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.