The Civil Human Rights Front said on Tuesday that it will not comply with police demands that it hand over information on its finances and activities, as the force probes whether the pro-democracy group should be outlawed.
Police had accused the front of violating the Societies Ordinance, and had given it until Wednesday to respond to its questions on why the group was not registered under the ordinance and the public gatherings it has organised since 2006.
The front, which organises the annual July 1 protest and held a number of mass rallies in the earliest days of the anti-extradition movement in 2019, denies the police accusation that it is an illegal society.
"The front is surprised to be accused of violating the [Societies] Ordinance. If the front was an illegal society, why would the police and many government departments co-operate with an illegal society all along?" wrote its convenor Figo Chan, in a response that was also made public.
Chan noted that during legal proceedings, police had described the group as "a very good brand" that had cooperated with the force over public processions.
He also pointed out that former Chief Executive CY Leung had called those at the front his "friends" when he spoke to the media in 2013.
Chan called on authorities to uphold the Basic Law together, and defend basic human rights, democracy, and freedom.
"I was just a primary school pupil in 2006… No group would keep information for 15 years anyway – and even if we had, we wouldn't submit it," Chan said to the press.
He added his group's bottom line is to defend the freedom of association as stipulated in the mini-constitution.
Last week, the force also demanded answers as to why the group had issued a joint statement to the United Nations last December with more than 20 other groups demanding that the mainland and Hong Kong governments respect human rights.
The front did not respond to the question.