Hong Kong activist Andy Li was remanded in custody on Wednesday after making his first public appearance in court since he was released from a Chinese prison last last month.
Li, who was charged under the security law for allegedly colluding with foreign powers, appeared at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on Wednesday. He was accused of asking foreign countries or organisations to impose sanctions – or take other hostile actions – against Hong Kong or China.
The 30-year-old was also charged with conspiracy to assist offenders by attempting to flee to Taiwan with an intention to obstruct arrest and prosecution, and possession of ammunition without a licence for allegedly possessing 232 used tear gas cannisters, seven used sponge grenades, and 38 used rubber bullets.
The prison van transferring Li to court was escorted by a fleet of over a dozen of police motorbikes.
Li, who wore a white shirt to court and briefly looked around the court room during the hearing, told the court on Wednesday that he understood the three charges. He did not apply for bail, and gave up his right to review his bail at the Magistrates’ Court every eight days.
The prosecution said that the Department of Justice decided to bring the case to the High Court’s Court of First Instance, and requested that the court remand Li in custody even the activist did not apply for bail.
‘Andy is missing’ campaign
Prior to the hearing, Li’s family said on Twitter that they were only able to reach the activist on April 2, after claiming that they cannot locate him when the activist was released from Shenzhen.
The family also said that the Twitter account Andy Is Missing will stop responding to questions regarding the activist as legal proceedings have started.
Li was among a group of 12 Hongkongers captured by the Chinese coastguard last August while trying to flee to Taiwan in a speedboat. He was sentenced to seven months in jail for crossing the border illegally.
Barrister Lawrence Law and solicitor Trevor Chan were present at court representing Li. Chan refused to disclose how Li instructed him to find legal presentation while custody, but said: “I’m definitely not a government-appointed lawyer.”
“I’m also in a difficult position,” Chan said when reporters continued to raise questions about why Li’s family did not know about him or Law. “Don’t force me,” the solicitor said.
According to Tai Kung Pao, Chan’s named appeared on a petition condemning the “spread of ‘Hong Kong independence’ on campus” in 2017. Law was suspended twice in 2005 and 2007 owing to complaints of misconduct.
Chan tried to leave the courthouse in a private vehicle, but his car was stopped by dozens of journalists who put their cameras against the car windows to get a photo of the lawyer. The chaotic scene lasted for about seven minutes.
Police officers outside court were seen holding guns in their hands.
A Correctional Services Department vehicle that was believed to be carrying Li left the court at around 4 pm.
Last Thursday, Olympia Chambers, where Law is a tenant, said they were “deeply aggrieved” by certain media reports about Law and his involvement in Li’s case. It slammed some reports as a “self-fulfilling prophecy and said Law had “no duty” to inform the press or Li’s family about details of the activist’s instructions.
“It is most regrettable that certain press had formed a view incorrectly that this is a case of “government – appointing – private solicitors/ counsel to appear for Mr Li,” only upon queries/ speculations,” the statement read.
The chambers also said Li’s family could contact the instructing solicitors to learn details about the conditions of Li. But they did not name whom Li instructed or which law firm was involved.
Li will appear at the High Court on May 18.
Additional reporting: Kelly Ho