Hong Kong police arrest group accused of helping 12 pro-democracy activists flee

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Hong Kong police on Saturday arrested a group of nine people accused of aiding twelve democracy activists who tried to flee by boat to Taiwan and have been held for nearly two months in mainland China.

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The nine people, some of whom had already been arrested in the past for participating in the massive protests that rocked the city last year, were taken into custody for “assisting offenders”.

A police spokesperson told reporters that they “own the boat” on board which the activists fled, that they have given them “financial assistance, provided them with accommodation before the trip, transported to the pier ”and were to assist them when they arrived in Taiwan.

The Chinese Coast Guard arrested on August 23 the 12 militants who tried to get to Taiwan aboard a boat.

As Chinese repression descended on the former British colony, Taiwan established itself as a possible asylum for Hong Kong people wanting to flee, the island turning a blind eye when some showed up undocumented and visas required.

Some fugitives were being prosecuted in Hong Kong for activities related to last year’s pro-democracy protests.

This former British colony has its own judicial system, but that in mainland China is controlled by the Communist Party and a conviction is almost guaranteed.

In June, Beijing imposed a new security law on Hong Kong, giving it jurisdiction over certain crimes. Mainland security officers can now operate openly in this city.

China claims the group of twelve fugitives are being held for illegally seeking to cross the border, but some are concerned that they may be prosecuted for national security offenses that carry the death penalty or life imprisonment.

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