Hong Kong authorities on January 8 released all but three people arrested in Wednesday’s unprecedented roundup of pro-democracy figures. According to The Guardian, the police are yet to press any charges. Those still being held are the activists Joshua Wong, Tam Tak-chi, and Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai, who has been remanded in custody after police found he had not declared a passport during a previous case.
More than 53 prominent figures, including a US citizen, that voice dissident against the Chinese and Hong Kong governments were arrested by the police officers in a national crackdown on charges of “subversion”. A US lawyer was the first to be released on bail pending further inquiries, less than 24 hours after the mass arrest. By Friday afternoon, 51 others had also joined him.
The individuals -- which include former lawmakers, academics, social workers, and students -- were released on police bail pending charges. The arrest of John Clancey, who is a prominent Hong Kong lawmaker and US citizens, marked the first use of National Security law against a foreigner. Following the mass arrest, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo even labelled it “arbitrary detention and harassment” of people and threatened US sanctions over the crackdown.
In his statement, the top US diplomat said that all those arrested by the Hong Kong authorities are “guilty of nothing but exercising the democratic rights promised to them by treaty, and due to them through virtue of their humanity”. Furthermore, he added that the US would not “stand idly” while Hong Kongers suffer under communist oppression. Thus, the country was “considering” imposing sanctions on the entities involved and also exploring restrictions against Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in the United States.
Further, the arrest attracted flak and condemnation from the United Kingdom as well. UK’s foreign minister Dominic Raab reportedly called the detention "a grievous attack on Hong Kong's rights and freedoms and Beijing deliberately misleading the world about the true purpose of security law.”
Last year, China had passed national security law, which has been widely opposed in the autonomous region, undermines the 'one nation, two systems' doctrine. Overshadowing Hong Kong's autonomy, the law awards prison sentences to anyone found guilty of secession or subversion.