A lawyer representing Hong Kong activist and national security suspect Andy Li appeared in court for the first time on Wednesday. But Li’s family said they did not know who the lawyer was.

Barrister Lawrence Law showed up in the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on Wednesday morning, when Li’s case was mentioned in front of Chief Magistrate Victor So. It was the first time for the activist to have a legal representative in court.

West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts
West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The 30-year-old stands accused under the Beijing-enacted security law of colluding with foreign powers. He is also charged with conspiracy to assist offenders and possession of ammunition without a licence.

Li and seven other Hongkongers were handed over to Hong Kong police last week, after they served seven months behind bars in the mainland for illegal border crossing. They were among a group of 12 captured by the Chinese coastguard last August while trying to flee to Taiwan on a speedboat. Many of those on board were facing trial over offences linked to the 2019 anti-extradition bill protests.

Li was absent from Wednesday’s hearing as he is under a two-week compulsory coronavirus quarantine following his arrival from Shenzhen. The case was adjourned to April 7 and the activist will complete his isolation on Sunday night.

Andy Li
Andy Li. File photo: Stand News.

The court said he is held in custody by the Correctional Services Department (CSD) in the meantime. It remains unclear which CSD institution Li is being detained at, and his family have claimed they were unable to confirm his whereabouts.

After the hearing, Law refused to disclose any information about the case, including Li’s location. An associate of Law confirmed they had met the defendant while he was in custody, but did not elaborate on the meeting details.

“I cannot disclose,” Law told reporters outside the courtroom.

According to Stand News, Li’s sister said the barrister was not arranged by the family. She added it was only through news reports that she “knew there was this person.” HKFP tried reaching Law for comment, but he did not answer the phone.

Lawrence Law
Lawrence Law. Photo: Olympia Chambers.

The government gazette shows that Law was suspended from practising for two months in 2005 and four months in 2007, both owing to complaints of misconduct. He was also fined HK$30,000 and HK$189,306, respectively, by the Barristers Disciplinary Tribunal for conduct in breach of the Code of Conduct of the Bar of HKSAR.

“[The] Tribunal ordered that Lawrence T.H. LAW be censured, he be suspended from practising as a barrister for a period of four months,” a government document from 2007 read.

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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.