Two men have been arrested by police officers from Hong Kong’s National Security Department on suspicion of “doing an act or acts with seditious intention,” police have said.

The pair, aged 18 and 29, were apprehended in Kwai Tsing and Sham Shui Po, respectively, on Tuesday afternoon. Authorities searched their homes and seized electronic communication devices suspected of being used to publish seditious messages.

Hong Kong Police
Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

“Investigation revealed that the two arrested persons were suspected of publishing posts on social platforms to disseminate seditious messages that promote feelings of ill-will and enmity between different classes of the population of Hong Kong and incite the use of violence,” a police statement on Tuesday read.

Police told HKFP that the arrestees were still in detention as of Wednesday noon.

Pro-independence message

Local media reported that the men published content related to Hong Kong independence, while HK01 cited sources saying those posts included “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” and “one nation, one Hong Kong” – slogans that were commonly used during demonstrations in 2019.

Protests erupted that June over a proposed amendment to the city’s extradition bill that would have allowed fugitives to be transferred to mainland China, where the legal system is notoriously opaque. They escalated into sometimes violent displays of dissent against police behaviour, amid calls for democracy and anger over Beijing’s encroachment.

may james china extradition June 9 march best of
Photo: May James.

The government specifically outlawed the “Liberate Hong Kong” slogan in 2020, saying it was “pro-independence, secessionist and subversive.”

The Security Bureau told HKFP that as of September 16, 215 people had been arrested on suspicion of “committing acts and engaging in activities that endanger national security” since the law was enacted in June 2020. Among them, 128 people and five companies have been charged.

The colonial-era sedition law outlaws incitement to violence, to disaffection and to other offences against the administration while the national security law, criminalises subversion, secession, collusion with foreign powers, and terrorist acts.

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Almond Li is a Hong Kong-based journalist who previously worked for Reuters and Happs TV as a freelancer, and as a reporter at Hong Kong International Business Channel, Citizen News and Commercial Radio Hong Kong. She earned her Masters in Journalism at the University of Southern California. She has an interest in LGBT+, mental health and environmental issues.