Hong Kong national security police have detained one more man in connection with an alleged conspiracy to collude with foreign forces by providing financial support to self-exiled activists.

Hong Kong Police Force. File photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

A 24-year-old man was arrested at the Hong Kong International Airport on Thursday morning on suspicion of conspiring to collude with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security. The arrestee was also suspected of conspiring to do an act or acts with seditious intention, police said in a statement issued on Thursday afternoon.

According to the police, the apprehended individual was linked to four men arrested on Wednesday. The group allegedly received funds from operating companies, social media platforms and mobile applications to support people who had left Hong Kong and who, police alleged, continued to engage in activities which endangered national security.

The four men were also said to have repeatedly made social media posts with seditious intention. The posts in question included content that provoked hatred towards the Chinese authorities and the Hong Kong authorities, as well as advocated Hong Kong independence, police said on Wednesday.

Mee app
The Mee app promoted at a shop. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

The man arrested on Thursday was Chu Yan-ho, a former member of the standing committee of the defunct political group Demosisto, local media reported citing sources. According to the reports, Chu worked for online shopping app Mee, which was launched in 2020 to promote “yellow” businesses sympathetic to the 2019 extradition bill protests.

He has been detained for further enquiries, police said.

“The operation is ongoing. Police do not rule out the possibility that more arrests will be made,” the statement read.

The remaining arrestees in the case included ex-Demosisto chairman Ivan Lam and members Li Kai-ching and Arnold Chung, sources told local media.

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.

The detentions came days after Hong Kong authorities issued arrest warrants and HK$1 million bounties for eight pro-democracy activists based overseas. They were former lawmakers Ted Hui and Dennis Kwok, lawyer Kevin Yam, unionist Mung Siu-tat, lobbyists Anna Kwok and Finn Lau, campaigner Elmer Yuen and prominent activist Nathan Law, one of the founding members of Demosisto.

Western countries have decried the move, with the US saying the extraterritorial application of the national security law set a “dangerous precedent” for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Hong Kong government hit back at criticism on Thursday and said the accusations were “irresponsible and unsubstantiated.”

“Such remarks were purely politically motivated,” the Hong Kong government said in a statement released on Thursday.

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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Ho Long Sze Kelly is a Hong Kong-based journalist covering politics, criminal justice, human rights, social welfare and education. As a Senior Reporter at Hong Kong Free Press, she has covered the aftermath of the 2019 extradition bill protests and the Covid-19 pandemic extensively, as well as documented the transformation of her home city under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

Kelly has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration. Prior to joining HKFP in 2020, she was on the frontlines covering the 2019 citywide unrest for South China Morning Post’s Young Post. She also covered sports and youth-related issues.