Ex-lawmaker Ray Chan was granted bail by the High Court on Thursday after being held in custody ahead of his national security trial for over half a year.

The ex-People Power legislator was among 47 people charged under the national security law in January for allegedly conspiring to commit subversion after taking part in an unofficial legislative election primaries.

Ray Chan October 1 Causeway Bay
Photo: Tam Ming Keung/HKFP.

Hand-picked national security judge Esther Toh said she had sufficient grounds to believe that Chan would not “continue to commit acts endangering national security,” RTHK reported.

He was ordered not to breach the security law, leave Hong Kong or contact foreign officials or lawmakers. He was also told not to organise any elections, as he was released on HK$100,000 bail.

In total, 14 of the defendants in the case have been released on bail ahead of the trial. The next hearing is on September 23, where the prosecution’s request to transfer the case to the High Court is expected to be heard.

In June 2020, Beijing inserted national security legislation directly into Hong Kong’s mini-constitution – bypassing the local legislature – following a year of pro-democracy protests and unrest. It criminalised subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to transport and other infrastructure. The move gave police sweeping new powers, alarming democrats, civil society groups and trade partners, as such laws have been used broadly to silence and punish dissidents in China. However, the authorities say it has restored stability and peace to the city.

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Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.