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Hong Kong police question activist Agnes Chow again over security law

HONG KONG (Kyodo) -- Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow was on Tuesday questioned by police again three weeks after being arrested for allegedly violating a national security law newly imposed by Beijing.

    Hong Kong democracy activist Agnes Chow meets the press outside a police station in the New Territories on Sept. 1, 2020. (Kyodo)

    Chow's arrest along with that of media mogul Jimmy Lai on Aug. 10 for alleged collusion with foreign forces drew concerns from the international community over Hong Kong authorities' persecution of political dissidents using the sweeping anti-subversion law.

    Freed on bail, Chow was told to report to police Tuesday, but she was held up for further questioning over an unspecified allegation.

    "I couldn't talk about what the police asked me about in today's interview because the matter is under the legal procedure," the 23-year-old told reporters outside the Tai Po police station after being released on bail.

    "But (while in police detention) on Aug. 10, they showed me an advertisement about (Hong Kong's) democracy movement published in the Nikkei in 2019," she said, referring to the Japanese business daily.

    "I am not sure if the police would use the 2019 advertisement as evidence of violating the national security law enacted in 2020. If so, it would be very ridiculous."

    The law, which targets acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, is not retroactive, so acts taken before the effective date of the law are not be considered criminal.

    Chow accused the police and the government of using the security law as a political tool to suppress the Hong Kong people and the international media, citing the incident of police executing a court warrant to seek documents from Nikkei's Hong Kong newsroom and the government rejecting work visas for foreign journalists.

    On Aug. 10, police raided media boss Lai's Apple Daily office and seized boxes of materials as evidence after arresting him, his two sons and a handful of his associates for allegations of foreign collusion and fraud, while Chow and two other activists were also arrested for collusion.

    Police also visited Nikkei's newsroom the same day and seized documents with a court warrant, it was reported. Police confirmed the visit to Nikkei on an unspecified date in August and said no news materials were seized while denying having searched the premises.

    Several media outlets have reported delays in issuing new or renewed visas to foreign journalists working in the city, according to the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Hong Kong.

    Before reporting to the police Tuesday, Chow said she was quite worried about the possibility of long detention should police press charges against her

    She is now to report to the police again in three months.

    "My wish is that I could come back (out) and go back to my home after reporting to police on Dec. 2 and I could have my 24th birthday at home on Dec. 3," she said.

    Since the national security law was enacted and promulgated in Hong Kong on June 30, police have arrested more than 20 people for alleged violation of the law, which if convicted could carry life imprisonment.

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