A democrat charged under the national security law was denied bail after prosecutors alleged that he “persistently reiterated” his stance against the Hong Kong government, the police and the national security law, court documents reveal.

The judiciary on Monday published the reasons why High Court Judge Esther Toh denied bail to Roy Tam, one of the 47 democrats accused of “conspiring to commit subversion” after taking part in a primary election last year to pick democratic candidates for the since-postponed legislature election.

Roy Tam
Roy Tam. Photo: inmediahk.net.

Prosecutors at Tam’s bail application said he “persistently reiterated his stance against the Hong Kong government, the police and the [national security law]. So if he granted bail could very easily use the multiple platforms available to him to continue to offend against the NSL. “

Tam’s application in the High Court was rejected last month but the reasons were only made public on Monday. The 41-year-old served as a district councillor before quitting in April. He resigned from Neo Democrats before the party disbanded in June.

Lawyers for Tam argued that he “does not have much political influence,” and now wants “to focus on his family and friends rather than politics.”

The judgement also indicated discrepancies between the two sides in the translation of a campaign speech by Tam. The prosecution said he had vowed to “purge or retaliate” against former “dirty cops” who became LegCo security guards, while the defendant’s lawyer said Tam only vowed to “make people accountable.”

Esther Toh
Esther Toh. Photo: Judiciary.

Toh ruled that Tam had failed to meet the threshold to be granted bail, and she was “not satisfied that [Tam] will not continue to commit acts endangering [national security] if granted bail.”

The national security law, drawn up by Beijing and enacted in June last year, criminalises subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts. It sets a much higher threshold for the granting of bail than in criminal cases.

Only 14 of the 47 defendants have been granted bail, with the others held in custody since being charged on February 28. They will appear in court again on Thursday, when prosecutors are expected to ask for the case to be transferred to the Court of First Instance.

The higher court has the power to impose life sentences. Some national security offences are punishable by life, depending on the nature of the charge.

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