Veteran pro-democracy activist Koo Sze-yiu was arrested on Friday morning, reportedly under the security law for suspected incitement of subversion.

Police said that a 75-year-old was detained early on Friday in Sham Shui Po. He has often taken part in political rallies organised by pro-democracy party League of Social Democrats, but is not officially a member.

Koo Sze-yiu
Koo Sze-yiu. Photo: via CC 2.0.

Koo informed the media that he was planning to demonstrate outside Beijing’s Liaison Office in the city that morning to protest China’s Winter Olympics and call attention to political activists behind bars.

He was reportedly arrested under the national security law for allegedly “inciting subversion of state power.” The police also brought in four other people to assist with the investigation, local media said, although it was unclear if they had also been arrested. Among the four were activist Lui Yuk-lin and former Democratic Party member Virginia Fung, according to HK01.

Officers arrested Koo at his home at Winsum Industrial Building at around 6 a.m., local media said. He was transferred to Cheung Sha Wan Division Police Station. In the afternoon, police said that further arrests may be made.

‘Abuse’ of security law

Koo – who has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer – was planning to demonstrate outside China’s office in Hong Kong at 10 a.m. on Friday, according to a media invitation he sent to local news outlets on Monday. In his letter, he urged the central government not to overlook imprisoned citizens and political figures in Hong Kong who did not have the opportunity to spend Lunar New Year with their families.

He also said the city’s national security law had been “abused” and that many have been “wrongfully detained.”

Leung Kwok-hung and Koo Sze-yiu.
Leung Kwok-hung and Koo Sze-yiu. Photo: Todd Darling/HKFP.

Speaking to HKFP, Chan Po-ying – chair of the League of Social Democrats – said that “if simply protesting at the China Liaison Office can be charged with incitement, it is quite terrifying,”

The opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics will commence on Friday night amid a US-led diplomatic boycott over China’s human rights record.

Koo has been jailed 11 times before, most recently for taking part in an unauthorised assembly and violating the anti-mask law during a demonstration in October 2019. He was released from prison last July.

“This will not be my last time in jail, there will be a 12th, 13th time. I might even intentionally violate the national security law next time,” the veteran activist said ahead of his last hearing.

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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.