Hong Kong activist charged for disclosing details of anti-graft probe he initiated

Prosecutors brought charges against Avery Ng of League of Social Democrats one day before deadline for taking such action would have expired

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 April, 2017, 10:07pm
UPDATED : Monday, 03 April, 2017, 10:59pm

The chairman of Hong Kong’s League of Social Democrats was charged on Monday for allegedly disclosing details of a probe by the city’s graft buster based on a complaint he lodged last year.

The prosecution of Avery Ng Man-yuen came on the day before the one-year time limit for initiating a prosecution was to expire, with senior public prosecutor Samantha Chiu Ping-yan apologising at the afternoon hearing for the “urgent manner” in which the case was brought to court.

The urgency was also recognised by principal magistrate Bina Chainrai, who noted that prosecutors had miscalculated the timing and the cut-off point would have passed if the case had been brought to court later than Monday.

Ng, 40, faces three counts of disclosing the identity of persons being investigated.

He was not required to take a plea on his first appearance in Eastern Court.

Prosecutors alleged the business consultant had without lawful authority or reasonable excuse disclosed to the public the identity of a person facing an Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as broadcaster RTHK .

He was also accused of disclosing details of the investigation in revealing that he had been invited to give and was in the course of giving a witness statement as a complainant.

The alleged offences spanned April 5 to May 24 last year.

A statement from the ICAC revealed that Ng had earlier lodged a complaint against the subject on April 2 of the same year.

The case was adjourned for five weeks to May 8 for Ng, who was not legally represented, to seek legal advice.

He was released on cash bail of HK$1,000, with the condition that he live at his reported address and alert the ICAC 24 hours ahead of any change.

Prosecutors also asked for an additional condition that he refrain from having contact with any of the witnesses, but that was turned down by the magistrate.

“The witnesses listed are ICAC officers,” Chainrai said. “I don’t think that’s a reasonable condition.”

The offence is punishable by a HK$20,000 fine and one year in prison.