Hong Kong police have arrested a former member of the force on suspicion of publishing “seditious” speech on social media platforms, in connection with a marine police officer who died while on duty in late September.
Police said on Friday that a 26-year-old man who had served on the city’s police force was arrested in Sha Tin a day ago under the colonial-era Crimes Ordinance. Choi Chun-man was charged with acting with “seditious intent” by making social media posts with an alleged aim to “incite hatred” against the government and “raise discontent” among Hongkongers.
The force seized three mobile phones when they picked up the suspect, who said he was currently unemployed. He was brought to the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on Friday afternoon, where he was granted bail.
Chief Inspector Tai Tze-bun of the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau said posts in question were related to the death of Senior Police Inspector Lam Yuen-yee. Asked to describe the content of the posts, Tai said he could not divulge the details as the case will soon enter judicial proceedings.
“Our operation is still in progress. We don’t rule out [the possibility] that more people may be arrested,” the chief inspector said, adding anyone convicted of the offence could face a fine of up to HK$5,000 and two years in prison.
Lam, of the marine police force, drowned in a clash with smugglers on September 25. Her body was found near the coast of Yi O on Lantau Island days after she fell overboard. Her funeral ceremony took place with the highest honours earlier this month.
It is unclear when the suspect left the force, and in what circumstances.
Some netizens had mocked Lam by publishing a parody song titled Do not look for what fell into the sea on an online forum. The act was then condemned by pro-Beijing politician Priscilla Leung as “cold-blooded,” while a police union slammed people who poked fun at Lam as no “different from animals.”
Tai told the press on Friday that the case involving a former police officer was an “individual misconduct,” adding police would follow up on the case without bias.
“The chief executive has expressed earlier that there is a high standard for the performance of civil servants, not only their performance at work, but also their professionalism and conduct as public officers,” he said.