Hong Kong pro-democracy former lawmaker Albert Ho has been arrested by national security police while on bail.

Ming Pao, HK01, and Sing Tao cited sources saying hat Ho’s arrest on Tuesday morning was over allegedly interfering with witnesses. The 71-year-old, who has been charged under the Beijing-imposed national security law for allegedly inciting subversion, was granted bail last August.

Albert Ho arrest
Former pro-democracy lawmaker Albert Ho brought away by national security police from his home on March 21, 2023. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, the police said a 71-year-old man was arrested on Hong Kong Island for allegedly perverting the course of justice.

Ho was prosecuted with Lee Cheuk-yan and Chow Hang-tung, as well as the disbanded Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China in September 2021. The case has been moved to the High Court, where they could face a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

The ex-lawmaker’s bail conditions included a cash bail of HK$700,000, and a surety from his daughter and sister-in-law.

Ho was also barred from making any speech online or through media outlets that could be seen to violate the national security law, and prohibited from directly or indirectly contacting any foreign officials or their staff members over any matters.

When Ho, who was the Alliance’s former vice-chairperson, was granted bail at the High Court last year, Judge Johnny Chan said that while Ho’s health and his desire to seek private medical treatment were not grounds for granting bail, they were factors that the ex-lawmaker should consider when deciding whether to commit any further acts that might violate the national security law.

tiananmen massacre hong kong
Hong Kong’s annual Tiananmen Square Massacre vigil, 2019. Photo: Todd R. Darling/HKFP.

“Don’t prove me wrong and Mr. Cheung [the prosecutor] right,” Chan said to Ho.

The sweeping security law, enacted in June 2020, criminalised subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to transport and other infrastructure.

The move gave police sweeping new powers, alarming democrats, civil society groups and trade partners, as such laws have been used broadly to silence and punish dissidents in China. However, the authorities say it has restored stability and peace to the city.

Defendants charged under the sweeping legislation are subject to a more stringent bail 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.”

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.