Veteran democrat and barrister Martin Lee says he is relieved and proud to have finally joined the ranks of those arrested and charged over Hong Kong's fight for democracy.
Lee, 81, was among 15 well-known pro-democracy figures arrested on Saturday over anti-government protests last year.
After being released on bail, the founding chairman of the Democratic Party told the media that he had never been arrested before, adding that he has no regrets.
“Over the months and years, I’ve felt bad to see so many outstanding youngsters being arrested and prosecuted, but I was not charged. Now I've finally become a defendant. I feel proud that I have a chance to walk this path of democracy together with them,” he said.
Lee said he is accused of organising and taking part in an illegal assembly at Victoria Park on August 18 last year.
He was released on bail of HK$1,000 and is due to appear at Eastern Magistracy on May 18, along with 14 others, including lawmaker Leung Yiu-chung, former legislator Margaret Ng and media tycoon Jimmy Lai.
Lee Cheuk-yan from the Confederation of Trade Unions was another of those arrested.
After being bailed, he said he had been charged with joining and organising unauthorised assemblies in August and October last year.
The former Labour Party legislator said he is prepared to go to prison, but the wrong people are being prosecuted.
"It should be the Department of Justice and the police that are the defendants. Because they are the ones that deprive us of our rights under the Basic Law, the Bill of Rights and the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights ... to freedom of assembly and to march," he said.
In response to Saturday's arrests, the Security Bureau issued a statement saying that everyone is equal before the law.
"No one is above it nor can anyone break it without facing consequences. If there is evidence that anyone violates the law, no matter what his/her status or background is, he/she must face justice," the statement said.
"No one has any special privileges. The police will handle the case in a fair, just and impartial manner in accordance with the law."
I'm proud to finally be a defendant: Martin Lee
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