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1,000 officers arrested 53 for subversion: police

2021-01-06 HKT 15:44
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  • 1,000 officers arrested 53 for subversion: police
A senior national security officer says around a thousand police were involved in Wednesday morning's operation to arrest 53 people suspected of subversion by allegedly planning to force Carrie Lam to step down as chief executive and to paralyse the government.

Those arrested had taken part in or allegedly helped organise primary elections last July to choose candidates for Legco polls that never actually happened.

But the 600,000 people who voted in the primaries won't face any criminal investigation, said senior superintendent Steve Li from the force's national security department.

Li said 45 men and eight women aged between 23 and 64 had been arrested.

He said six of them had allegedly organised the primaries, and the rest were "so-called candidates".

He said concrete steps had been taken for the pro-democracy camp to secure 35 or more seats in Legco so that they could veto the government's budgets.

This, he claimed, violates Article 22 of the national security law, which covers subverting state power – although Article 52 of the Basic Law sets out how the chief executive must resign if he or she repeatedly fails to get a budget approved by the legislature.

"We are finding some people have been seriously interfering, and disrupting and undermining the operating of the Hong Kong government by means of having a plan, the so-called 35-plus," Li told a media briefing.

"Starting in March last year, they have some ideas of how to use advantage of the seats in the Legco, to eventually object to the budgets and then after that, the chief executive will resign, leading to stopping the operations of the Hong Kong government," he said.

"Some of the participants, after the primary, said that they will continue their commitment to reject all the budgets... and it is subversive in their own behaviours," he claimed.

"We have to ask whether this is a fair and honest election," said Li, even though the government eventually called off the Legco elections, citing the pandemic.

Li said the organisers of the primaries had handed out between HK$4,000 and HK$290,000 to individual participants, and officers are going to look into what the money was for.

He said the force had frozen HK$1.6 million of funds, without stating who held the money.

The officer also confirmed that four media companies had been asked to provide information in relation to the investigation. Li said the requests were made upon "production orders" signed by a High Court judge.

He also said officers were "'investigating some connection between the plan and some institutes" and no journalistic material was being sought by the force.