HONG KONG - At least five more people linked to a pro-independence group have been arrested on suspicion of terrorism under the national security law, a week after Hong Kong authorities apprehended nine individuals in an alleged bomb plot.
Four males and one female aged 15 to 37 were detained on Monday (July 12), local media including broadcasters TVB and RTHK reported, citing sources.
Three are secondary school students aged 15 to 19, and the other two are a 37-year-old man in property management, and a 28-year-old man in construction.
The suspect in property management was working for Emperor Group and is one of two people who allegedly provided funds to recruit the students, while the one in construction allegedly sourced for bomb-making materials.
Emperor Group has suspended the employee and is helping with investigations.
The suspects are said to have ties to a pro-independence group called Returning Valiant, whose members were arrested last week in connection with a bomb plot. In early May, members of the group were arrested for subverting the state.
Last Tuesday, the police arrested nine individuals aged 15 to 39 for terrorism - for allegedly planning bomb attacks on public facilities including a car, courtrooms, train stations and the crossover tunnel. Some of the nine are members of Returning Valiant.
Of the five males and four females, six are secondary school students, while the others included the communications supervisor of Hong Kong Baptist University’s School of Continuing Education and his wife who is a secondary school teacher.
Authorities said the group of nine detained under the national security law had sufficient funds to rent a room in a Tsim Sha Tsui hostel to set up an explosives lab.
Three teens aged 15 to 19, who have been denied bail, have been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit terrorist activities.
The trio are accused of conspiring with others, between June 6 and July 5, to organise, plan, commit, participate in or threaten to commit terrorist activities intended to cause grave harm to the society. This included explosion, arson, sabotaging means of transport or transport facilities, or other dangerous activities which seriously jeopardise public health or safety.
The alleged activities are said to be aimed at coercing the central Chinese or Hong Kong government, or intimidating the public to pursue their political agenda.
Chief magistrate Victor So who handles national security cases refused last Wednesday to grant bail to the three defendants and adjourned their case to Sept 1.
The remaining six were released on bail and are required to report to the police later this month.
Separately, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng said in an opinion piece published in Sing Tao Daily on Monday that any defence or glorification of acts of terrorism amount to advocating them and this is a breach of the national security law.
In particular, public figures should be aware of the sensitivity of the topic of terrorism when making comments publicly, she said.
Her remarks come days after local media reported that adjunct professor Johannes Chan from the Faculty of Law at the University of Hong Kong will not extend his employment contract which expired end June.
The professor, who was the longest-serving dean of the law faculty, had commented on the July 1 stabbing of a police officer, saying that mourners of the attacker who later died could have done so out of sympathy for the deceased, or to show their discontent with the government.
But officials including security chief Chris Tang and the city’s number two, Chief Secretary John Lee, slammed the comments without naming anyone, saying that downplaying acts of terrorism would make one a “sinner for a thousand years”.