A former member of defunct Hong Kong pro-democracy party Demosisto, Derek Lam, has been questioned by national security police as officers searched his home in Sai Ying Pun, local media have reported.
Demosisto was co-founded by Nathan Law, who is among the eight self-exiled activists wanted by the National Security Department of the police, with authorities offering a HK$1 million bounty for each of the democrats.
Local media reported that no arrest was made during the Thursday morning operation.
In a response to HKFP, the police said they took away two men and a woman on Thursday morning, adding that further operations, including arrests, may be made.
The trio were suspected of helping wanted individual(s) in activities that endanger national security, according to the police.
Lam was a founding member of Demosisto and served as an executive member from 2016 to 2017, when Law was the party’s chairperson.
Lam was dismissed from the executive committee in 2017 due to misconduct. He was later convicted for participating in an illegal assembly and assaulting a police officer during the 2019 protests and unrest, and was sentenced to 80 hours of community service.
Former Demosisto members were identified in local media reports as the five men arrested by national security police last Wednesday and Thursday, who were said to have conspired to collude with foreign forces by providing financial support to self-exiled activists.
On Tuesday, local media reported that Law’s parents and brother were questioned by national security police. The police told HKFP that two men and a woman were suspected of “assisting persons wanted by Police to continue [to] commit acts and engage in activities that endanger national security.”
Law posted a statement on social media after the police operation saying that the relevant individuals had not interacted with him nor were they related to his work overseas. “Suggesting that they were ‘assisting’ me was purely nonsense,” Law wrote.
Reports of Law’s family members being taken for questioning by national security police came hours after Chief Executive John Lee said in his weekly press conference that the authorities would “exhaust all methods” to arrest the eight wanted democrats.
“The eight wanted criminals have committed [offences under the] Hong Kong national security law, endangered national security and been involved in serious crimes… As I have said, everyone should treat them as street rats and avoid [them] at all costs,” Lee said.
On Saturday, lawmaker Regina Ip said that communication between the wanted figures and their families should not pose any legal problem as long as the families were not providing financial support.
‘A lifetime’s endeavour to catch the wanted’
News of the national security arrest warrants made international headlines.
Besides Law, the wanted democrats are ex-lawmakers Ted Hui and Dennis Kwok; activists Anna Kwok, Elmer Yuen, Mung Siu-tat and Finn Lau; and solicitor Kevin Yam. All of them are now based abroad, including in the US, UK and Australia.
Police said that the group had “seriously violated the national security offences” by ”calling for sanctions against local officials“ and “scheming for foreign countries to undermine Hong Kong’s status as a financial centre.”
While Western countries have denounced the arrest warrants, pro-establishment groups have thrown their support behind the police move and said the activists should be held accountable to the law.
Speaking to reporters last week, Secretary for Security Chris Tang said the police would spend “a lifetime’s endeavour to catch the wanted.” He also singled out Law, who had posted on social media earlier that all he did was take part in peaceful advocacy. Tang called him a “Chinese traitor” who had taken part in “evil acts.”
Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong in June 2020 – bypassing local legislature – following a year of pro-democracy protests and unrest over a controversial extradition bill. It criminalised subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts.
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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