Hong Kong national security police have arrested a man on suspicion of charges including terrorism, arson and money laundering over alleged plans to carry out an arson attack on a Covid-19 testing centre and defraud a bank. Six others have been arrested in connection with the offenses.

Hong Kong Police
The Hong Kong Police Force logo. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

According to the police, a 22-year-old man was apprehended by officers from the National Security Department in Yuen Long on Monday night. He was believed to be connected with “a number of localist criminal organisations.” Among them, police said, was a group suspected of plotting to make bombs and target railways and courts, of which 14 members were arrested last July.

The group in question is thought to be the self-proclaimed “revolutionary” political group Returning Valiant, according to local media, and the man is suspected of having provided it with financial support.

Local media also said the man was understood to be a member of Black Bloc, another anti-government group.

Separately, police said the 22-year-old was suspected of planning an arson attack at a Covid-19 testing centre with a 20-year-old man and a 52-year-old woman. The pair were arrested for conspiracy to commit arson on Monday.

Covid-19 mobile testing Phase Scientific
A Covid-19 mobile testing centre in Sham Shui Po. File Photo: GovHK.

The 22-year-old was also suspected of committing arson at a Tsuen Wan Covid-19 testing station in May last year, an incident that resulted in the temporary suspension of its services.

In addition, police said the man – and four others – conspired to defraud a bank while applying for a loan and successfully obtained around HK$4.7 million. Two men and two women, aged between 36 and 43, were arrested on Tuesday morning on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering charges.

In total, the 22-year-old faces five charges – terrorism, arson, conspiracy to commit arson, conspiracy to defraud, and money laundering.

Police said they have not ruled out further arrests.

Returning Valiant

A court sentenced five teenaged members of the group to a training centre earlier this month, marking the first time minors were sentenced under the national security law.

The legislation, passed by Beijing in July 2020 following months of pro-democracy protests, criminalised subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to transport and other infrastructure.

returning valiant
Returning Valiant’s logo. Photo: Retuning Valiant, via Facebook.

Activists say the law has been used to crack down on civil society groups and newsrooms, but authorities maintain it has restored stability and peace to the city.

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Hillary has an interest in social issues and politics. Previously, she reported on Asia broadly - including on Hong Kong's 2019 protests - for TIME Magazine and covered local news at Coconuts Hong Kong.