A Hong Kong scholar who helped run a now-disbanded defence fund for democracy protesters was arrested at the airport under the national security law, two legal sources told AFP on Wednesday.
Hui Po-keung, a prominent cultural studies scholar, was on his way to take up an academic post in Europe before he was detained on Tuesday, the sources said, asking not to be named.
The arrest was confirmed by a second legal source. Police have yet to respond to a request for comment.
Hui was arrested for “collusion with foreign forces”, one source said, an offence under a new security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in response to huge protests three years ago.
The law has crushed dissent in the once outspoken business hub and can carry up to life in jail.
Hui was one of six trustees of the “612 Humanitarian Relief Fund” which helped arrested protesters pay for their legal and medical bills.
Other trustees of the fund include retired cleric Cardinal Joseph Zen, veteran barrister Margaret Ng, gay rights activist and pop singer Denise Ho as well jailed democracy activist Cyd Ho.
The fund disbanded last year after the city’s national security police demanded it hand over operational details including information about its donors and beneficiaries.
Shortly before the fund closed, Hong Kong’s Lingnan University confirmed that its contract with Hui had ended the month before but declined to state a reason on personal privacy grounds.
Academics who played prominent roles in Hong Kong’s now largely decimated democracy movement have often found themselves dropped by universities and are struggling to find work.
An active social commentator and prolific author, Hui taught for more than two decades at Lingnan University and was credited by prominent former student leader Nathan Law for inspiring his political career.