The group of former lawmakers and democracy proponents were accused by Hong Kong’s security minister John Lee of trying to paralyze the government by participating in unofficial election primaries for the territory’s legislature last year.
“The operation today targets the active elements who are suspected to be involved in the crime of overthrowing, or interfering (and) seriously destroy the Hong Kong government’s legal execution of duties,” Lee said at a news conference.
He said the arrestees were plotting to gain a majority of the seats in the legislature to create a situation in which the chief executive had to resign and the government would stop functioning.
Footage of Clancey following his arrest circulated on Twitter, showing him walking with a cane and telling the Hong Kong people, “Continue to work for democracy and human rights in Hong Kong” before he was whisked away in a car by police.
Clancey was the treasurer of the political group Power for Democracy, which was involved in the unofficial primaries.
Also busted were at least seven members of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, the city’s largest opposition party, including former party chairman Wu Chi-wai. Former lawmakers Lam, Helena Wong and James To were also arrested, according to the party’s Facebook page.
Benny Tai, a key figure in the region’s 2014 Occupy Central protests and a former law professor, was also arrested. He was one of the main organizers of the primaries.
Police said 1,000 officers assisted in the arrest of the 53 people — 45 men and eight women ranging in ages 23 to 79.
Alan Leong, chairman of the pro-democracy Civic Party in Hong Kong, called the arrests “an affront to the constitutionally protected rights to vote.”
“We don’t see how by promising to exercise such rights could end them up as being subversive,” he added.
Joshua Wong, a prominent pro-democracy activist who is serving a 13 1/2-month prison sentence for organizing and participating in a protest last year, said his home was raided.
Police delivered a court order at the headquarters of Stand News, a prominent pro-democracy online news site, as part of a probe related to the national security law. No arrests were made.
With Post Wires