6 accused of seditious acts at Hong Kong court hearings

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong’s national security police used a colonial-era sedition law to arrest six people on suspicion of causing a nuisance at court hearings in December and January.

The suspects were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of committing an “act or acts with seditious intent,” an offense under the Crimes Ordinance.

The acts “severely affected jurisdictional dignity and court operations,” a government statement said.

Police were not more specific about the alleged actions of the suspects — four men and two women between 32 and 67 years old. They also did not name the suspects, following customary practice. Local media reported one of those arrested was Tang Kin-wah, the former vice-chairman of the pro-democracy Confederation of Trade Unions, which disbanded in October following concerns over political risks.

The colonial-era law had been dormant before being revived recently to arrest and prosecute a string of pro-democracy supporters and activists. A radio DJ and outspoken pro-democracy activist in March became the first person in the city convicted of sedition since the 1997 handover.

The arrests Wednesday were the latest in a sweeping crackdown on political dissent in Hong Kong after months of anti-government protests in 2019. Most of the city’s most outspoken pro-democracy activists have been prosecuted and jailed while others have fled the city.

If charged and convicted of sedition, the six people arrested Wednesday could face up to two years in prison. The suspects were being held for questioning.

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