Hong Kong activist Owen Chow, one of the 47 democrats charged last year under the national security law, has had his bail revoked and will be returned to custody on Thursday. Acting Chief Magistrate Peter Law ruled that Chow had breached bail terms by publishing speech that could be seen as endangering national security.

Owen Chow. File Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Chow was rearrested on Wednesday while reporting to North Point Police Station, where a video interview with officers was arranged, according to his Facebook page.

Local media, including The Standard and Oriental Daily, reported that his latest arrest was in connection with continuing to publish political comments on social media, including remarks about the August 31 incident in 2019, to incite hatred towards the government.

With Chow’s bail revoked, only 14 of the 47 defendants remain on bail. Apart from Chow, the others have spent more than 300 days behind bars awaiting their subversion trial.

Under court reporting restrictions on bail proceedings, written and broadcast reports are limited to only include the result of a bail application, the name of the person applying for bail and their representation, and the offence concerned.

Journalists applied for reporting restrictions to be lifted, but Law rejected the request. He said some of the defendant’s speech was irrelevant to the case and it may involve other offences.

File photo: inmediahk.net.

On August 31 last year, Chow posted photos of riot police deploying pepper spray inside train carriages at Prince Edward MTR station with a hashtag of the date as a caption.

Reports also said Chow was accused of twisting remarks made by security chief Chris Tang and inciting people to not leave home or cast ballots in last December’s “patriots only” Legislative Council election.

On December 19, Chow quoted Tang’s warning of possible terrorist attacks on polling day and said “it was you who told us to ‘stay home if you feel scared,'” a comment allegedly made by a police phone operator during the 2019 Yuen Long attack.

On July 21, 2019, over 100 rod-wielding men stormed Yuen Long MTR station leaving 45 people injured – including journalists, protesters, commuters and pro-democracy lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting. Police were criticised for responding slowly to the incident, with some officers seen leaving the scene or interacting with the white-clad men. The official account of the incident evolved over a year, with the authorities eventually claiming it was a “gang fight.”

A polling station in Tai Koo in the December 19 “patriots only” Legislative Council election. File Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Chow was granted bail last June after spending four months in custody awaiting his subversion trial in relation to primaries elections held by the democratic camp ahead of the 2020 Legislative Council election, which was postponed until December last year.

Hong Kong’s High Court had ordered Chow to follow a list of bail conditions, including not making any speeches or any behaviour that could be seen as endangering national security. He was also banned from participating in any elections or contacting any foreign officials.

In March, 2021, Beijing passed legislation to ensure “patriots” govern Hong Kong. The move reduced democratic representation in the legislature, tightened control of elections and introduced a pro-Beijing vetting panel to select candidates. The Hong Kong government said the overhaul would ensure the city’s stability and prosperity. But the changes also prompted international condemnation, as they made it near-impossible for pro-democracy candidates to stand.

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Peter Lee

Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.