Two YouTubers say they provided HK$1 million of direct funding to four Hong Kong fugitives facing charges over the 2019 protests. It comes after local media reported that Tuesdayroad Media – which has over 400,000 subscribers – was the subject of a national security police investigation.
The four – including 21-year-old Tsang Chi-kin who was shot by police during a demonstration – were arrested on Wednesday and brought to court the day after.
Li Kwai-wah – a senior national security police officer – said on Thursday that the activists had been staying in safehouses for two years and had paid an unspecified group HK$400,000 to help them flee the city. But most members of the group who received the sum fled Hong Kong before actually securing an escape route for the fugitives, Li said.
In addition, Li said the suspected group had launched crowdfunding efforts and made videos of the four fugitives to ask for donations.
Link to YouTubers
Local media – including Oriental Daily, Sing Tao and HK01 – cited sources as saying that the fundraising group was linked to Tuesdayroad Media, a channel that mainly produces political commentaries on YouTube.
On Friday morning, the accused YouTube channel published two videos totalling 33 minutes in response of media enquiries, revealing that they had been financially supporting the four fugitives to pay for rent and meals.
The YouTubers said they had already left for UK in July 2020 and had only learnt of the four’s desire to flee between August and September of that year.
They said that they had not used the plight of the fugitives to ask for donations, and that all funds came from themselves.
The two hosts said they had spent tens of thousands of dollars per month on the fugitives, paying out over HK$1 million in all. They said they kept all receipts, but could not guarantee if all the money was actually spent on the four.
They said they had employed someone to cook for them and deliver meals, adding that they also bought gaming consoles and discs for them: “we were afraid that they would be bored,” their video said.
“It is obvious to anyone that we exhausted all efforts to help those people. It was unfortunate that they could not flee, and it was because there were no routes [out].”
They said they had asked the four to film a video about their situation last December, before an escape attempt that did not take place. But they said the clip was never disclosed to other parties.
HKFP has reached out to the YouTubers for comment.
In response to HKFP’s enquiry, the police said they would not comment on individual cases. “In conducting any operation, Police act on the basis of actual circumstances and according to the law,” they added.
Warehouse worker charged
Apart from the four activists, the police also arrested Yip Ho, a 34-year-old warehouse worker, on Wednesday night.
Yip was brought to West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on Friday. He stood accused of committing acts “tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice.”
He had allegedly provided assistance to the four fugitives between October 2020 and July 13 this year for the purpose of “absconding from court hearings and/or fleeing from the Hong Kong jurisdiction,” to obstruct or hinder police investigation and related criminal proceedings.
According to local media, the court denied bail to Yip and granted the prosecution more time to wait for further police investigation on Yip’s electronic devices, online payment accounts, as well as the leases of alleged hideouts.
The case was adjourned to September 9, but the defendant is scheduled to appear in court next Friday for a bail review.