Court releases three Hong Kong activists on bail after arrests under national security law

Court releases three Hong Kong activists on bail after arrests under national security law

Hong Kong police carried out mass arrests of opposition figures on Wednesday for subversion under
Hong Kong police carried out arrests on Jan 6, 2021, for subversion under the new security law. (Photo: AFP/Peter Parks)

HONG KONG: Hong Kong's High Court on Saturday (Mar 13) released on bail three more activists but remanded two in custody in a widely monitored case involving the most sweeping use yet of the city's national security law.

The High Court was ruling on an appeal by prosecutors against a lower court's decision to grant bail to the five activists.

Tat Cheng, Michael Pang and Ricky Or were granted bail, while Jeremy Tam and Kwok Ka-ki were denied bail by High Court judge Esther Toh.

Some family members of those denied bail cried after hearing the verdict, including Tam's wife. But Kwok's wife remained defiant, holding up a sign outside the court that read: "Dear Hongkongers. You'll never walk alone! Add oil!"

An appeal against granting bail to four others will be heard on Monday.

READ: Hong Kong police say 47 activists charged with security crime

READ: Marathon bail hearing for 47 Hong Kong democracy activists enters fourth day

The charges on conspiracy to commit subversion against 47 opposition figures are being closely watched by foreign diplomats and rights groups.

They have raised concerns over the vanishing space for dissent in the former British colony, which has taken a swift authoritarian turn since the imposition of the law in June 2020.

Since the 47 people were charged around two weeks ago, the court has heard a series of requests for bail. Although most were rejected, the court approved some applications, prompting immediate appeals from prosecutors.

Eight have been granted bail so far, including Saturday's three, as prosecutors' appeals were either rejected or withdrawn.

READ: Youngest Hong Kong protester sentenced for rioting

The bail conditions for the three on Saturday included not threatening national security, participating in any elections except to vote, or contacting foreign officials, as well as surrendering all travel documents, observing a curfew and reporting to police regularly.

The 47 people are accused of organising and participating in an unofficial, non-binding primary poll in July 2020 that authorities said was part of a "vicious plot" to "overthrow" the government.

The vote was aimed at selecting the strongest opposition candidates for a legislative council election that the government later postponed, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. Hong Kong laws restrict media coverage of bail hearings.

Source: Reuters/mi