HONG KONG: Hong Kong police arrested a 24-year-old man at the city's airport in the early hours of Thursday (Jul 2) on suspicion of stabbing an officer during protests against a new national security law Beijing imposed on the financial hub.
Hong Kong police fired water cannon and tear gas and arrested more than 300 people on Wednesday as protesters took to the streets in defiance of the sweeping security legislation introduced by China to snuff out dissent.
There were no signs of protests on Thursday.
On Wednesday, police posted pictures on Twitter of an officer with a bleeding arm saying he was stabbed by "rioters holding sharp objects". The suspects fled while bystanders offered no help, police said.
A police spokesman said the arrested man was surnamed Wong but could not confirm whether he was leaving Hong Kong or working at the airport.
A police source, requesting anonymity to speak openly, said the man was pulled from Cathay Pacific flight CX251 to London, moments before it was due to leave the departure gate.
"He bought a ticket last minute. He was the only passenger on the flight to have purchased a ticket so late and had no check-in baggage with him," the source told AFP.
The suspect held an expired British National Overseas passport, a special status which provides a route to citizenship, the source told the Cable TV station.
Cathay Pacific did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The flight was delayed for nearly an hour according to Hong Kong International Airport's record.
Former Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying posted on Facebook on Wednesday that a bounty of HK$500,000 (US$64,513) would be offered to anyone helping catch the fugitive.
Police said seven officers were injured and more than 370 people were arrested on Wednesday. The stabbed officer was attacked as he tried to make an arrest, police said.
Three others were injured when a man flying a Hong Kong independence flag rammed his motorbike into a group of officers in a scene that was captured on mobile phone.
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The new national security law punishes crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison. It will also see mainland security agencies in Hong Kong for the first time and allows extradition to the mainland for trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party.
China's parliament adopted the law in response to protests last year triggered by fears that Beijing was stifling the city's freedoms, guaranteed by a "one country, two systems" formula agreed when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997. Beijing denies the accusation.
Democratically ruled and Chinese-claimed Taiwan advised its citizens to avoid unnecessary visits to or transit through Hong Kong, Macau or mainland China. Britain and Canada have also updated their travel advisories for Hong Kong, warning their citizens of detention risks.
Apparently seeking to allay fears that judges for national security cases would be cherry-picked by Hong Kong's unpopular, pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam, Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma said they would be appointed on the basis of judicial and professional qualities, rather than politics.
Hong Kong's independent judiciary, one of many freedoms guaranteed when it returned to Chinese rule, has long been considered key to its success as a global financial hub.