A Hong Kong woman charged with perverting justice over allegedly removing evidence from the home of an activist arrested under the national security law has been granted bail.

Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions Training Centre’s former executive director Marilyn Tang. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Marilyn Tang appeared at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court on Thursday. The court ordered her to post a cash bail of HK$50,000. Tang was also asked to hand over her travel documents and told not to leave Hong Kong.

She appeared before Peter Law, one of the city’s judges hand-picked to preside over national security cases.

The 63-year-old is the sister of Elizabeth Tang, a labour rights activist who was arrested in March over suspected foreign collusion. She was apprehended outside Stanley Prison after reportedly visiting her husband Lee Cheuk-yan, a former lawmaker who has been detained under the national security law.

Marilyn Tang was arrested days later after allegedly removing evidence from her sister’s home. Elizabeth Tang’s lawyer, Frederick Ho, was also arrested.

The evidence reportedly involved phones, laptops and documents in the flat.

Elizabeth Tang
Elizabeth Tang, ex-chief executive of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, released on police bail at the police headquarters in Wan Chai on March 11, 2023. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Marilyn Tang was charged on Sunday, over six months after her arrest.

Elizabeth Tang – the ex-chief executive of pro-democracy group the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) – was granted bail after her arrest and has not been charged. Ho has also not been charged.

According to local media reports, the defence sought an adjournment to obtain documents and provide Marilyn Tang with legal advice. She will return to court on November 16.

Marilyn Tang used to be the executive director of a training centre operated by the HKCTU, before HKCTU, which was the city’s largest pro-democracy union coalition, shut down in 2021 citing threats to safety. It was among dozens of civil society organisations to shutter in the wake of the national security law.

West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts
West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts. File photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

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.

Perverting the course of justice does not have a maximum punishment, with the courts given discretion to impose any imprisonment term or fine depending on the severity of the offence. Cases heard at magistrates’ courts, Hong Kong’s lowest courts, however, can see a maximum of two years imprisonment for a single offence.

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Hillary Leung is a journalist at Hong Kong Free Press, where she reports on local politics and social issues, and assists with editing. Since joining in late 2021, she has covered the Covid-19 pandemic, political court cases including the 47 democrats national security trial, and challenges faced by minority communities.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Hillary completed her undergraduate degree in journalism and sociology at the University of Hong Kong. She worked at TIME Magazine in 2019, where she wrote about Asia and overnight US news before turning her focus to the protests that began that summer. At Coconuts Hong Kong, she covered general news and wrote features, including about a Black Lives Matter march that drew controversy amid the local pro-democracy movement and two sisters who were born to a domestic worker and lived undocumented for 30 years in Hong Kong.