“Anyone,” including friends and family members, can receive the bounty for facilitating the arrests of the eight democrats wanted by the national security police, Chief Executive John Lee has said.

Authorities will use all lawful means and try their best to apprehend those wanted, even if it meant going “to the ends of the earth,” said Lee in his routine press briefing on Tuesday morning.

Chief Executive John Lee meeting the press on July 4, 2023
Chief Executive John Lee meeting the press on July 4, 2023. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The chief executive’s comments came after the police issued arrest warrants and a HK$1 million bounty each for eight pro-democracy activists over alleged offences under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

The eight were ex-lawmakers Ted Hui and Dennis Kwok; activists Nathan Law, Anna Kwok, Elmer Yuen, Mung Siu-tat and Finn Lau; and solicitor Kevin Yam.

Police said on Monday that the group had “seriously violated the national security offences, called for sanctions against local officials and schemed for foreign countries to undermine Hong Kong’s financial status.”

  • eight exiled activists
  • eight democrats offences

Lee said on Tuesday that he fully supported the police’s decision to issue the warrants, and urged the eight to surrender themselves to the authorities.

“The government will exhaust all lawful means to apprehend criminals endangering national security… [we] will pursue them for the rest of our lives even if they run to the ends of the earth,” said the chief executive.

“Anyone who facilitates in the arrest of these wanted individuals will be handled confidentially,” Lee said. “Those providing information can receive a reward depending on the actual situation. Family and friends of those wanted are also qualified, we welcome them to provide information on those wanted.”

The wanted posters for eight pro-democracy activists wanted by the national security police
The wanted posters for eight pro-democracy activists wanted by the national security police. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Lee said the only option for the eight democrats to change their wanted status was to surrender. “The court might even consider reducing the sentence under the national security law if they surrender,” he said. “Or else they will be wanted for life and have to live in fear and worry daily that they might be arrested.”

In June 2020, Beijing inserted national security legislation directly into Hong Kong’s mini-constitution – bypassing the local legislature – following a year of pro-democracy protests and unrest. It 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.

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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.