Message posted, police responded ... first Hongkonger arrested over online threats after localist Legco candidates barred now released on bail
He is due to report back to police in Sept; police claim arrest has nothing to do with suspect’s political background
For the first time in the run-up to this year’s Hong Kong legislative elections, an individual was arrested in connection with recent intimidating remarks and threats online against returning officers after two pro-independence activists were barred from the polls.
But the 22-year-old man has now been released on police bail. He is due to report back to police early next month.
Police did not specify in which cases the man was suspected to be involved.
Chiu Kin-yip, a senior inspector of the police cyber security and technology crime bureau, said the arrest was related “to the recent incident about the returning officer’s decision to disqualify a number of candidates” who sought to run for Legco. “The suspect had posted some political views online,” he said. “We would rather not reveal the political background of the suspect.”
Police took him from his home in Yiu Tung Estate in Shau Kei Wan to police headquarters in Wan Chai for questioning on Wednesday. They also seized two mobile phones and a tablet.
Chiu added that the man was arrested for being suspected of “obtaining access to a computer with an intent to commit an offence or with dishonest intent”.
He stressed that police had acted on complaints and that the arrest had nothing to do with the suspect’s political background.
The man was said to be jobless and alleged to have posted on his Facebook page on July 30 comments about “getting mentally prepared” for “throwing stones”, “throwing bricks”, and “throwing bombs”. The post included news about the Legco candidacy of Hong Kong National Party convenor Chan Ho-tin being invalidated.
“Getting prepared to die for revolution?” he wrote.
The news of Chan’s disqualification sparked “digital bullying”, with returning officer Alan Lo Ying-ki’s personal data being exposed and circulated online. Some users called on the public to recognise that the civil servant had given up his “political neutrality”.
Chan’s party had tried to distance itself from the bullying and said it would not encourage such acts, although it said it appreciated people’s anger.
Another candidate, Nakade Hitsujiko of Nationalist Hong Kong, was also disqualified.
In recent days, returning officer for New Territories East constituency Cora Ho Lai-sheung was also a target of “digital bullying” after she disqualified Edward Leung Tin-kei of Hong Kong Indigenous as well as pro-independence localist Chan Kwok-keung.
A police investigation was still ongoing, and the force said it would not rule out arresting others.
Chiu noted that the force respected people’s right to express their views but warned that statements posted in cyberspace would be subject to the law.