Veteran activist Albert Ho was denied bail on Wednesday over a case of inciting subversion of state power.
The former leader of the now disbanded Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China was prosecuted alongside committee members Lee Cheuk-yan and Chow Hang-tung. The alliance itself – which organised mass vigils to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown for decades – was also a defendant in the case.
The group and its leaders stand accused of inciting others to organise, plan, commit or participate in acts by unlawful means with a view to subverting the state power between July 1, 2020 and September 8, 2021.
Ho applied for bail for the first time early this month but the court postponed making a decision. Designated national security judge Peter Law on Wednesday rejected his application at the West Kowloon Law Courts. He also refused to lift bail reporting restrictions, according to The Witness.
Ho, who is 70 years old, isin jail for other protest-related cases, including an unauthorised assembly case over the annual June 4 Tiananmen vigil in 2020 at Victoria Park. Lee and Chow were also in prison.
Bail applications in national security cases have to go through a stricter assessment. Judges consider not only the defendant’s risk of absconding or obstructing justice, but also whether there are sufficient grounds for believing they “will not continue to commit acts endangering national security.”
The activists attended the first court mention for the subversion case in September last year, but the court adjourned the hearings multiple times as the prosecution asked for more time for investigation.
Beijing inserted the national security law into Hong Kong’s Basic Law in June 2020. The sweeping legislation criminalised subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to transport and other infrastructure.
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.
Correction 16/7/2022: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the year in which the security law was enacted. It was enacted in 2020. We regret the error.
Correction 15/08/2022: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that a bail application made by Ho earlier in July had been rejected. We regret the error.