The three core members of Student Politicism are remanded in custody after principal magistrate Don So rejected their applications for temporary release on Sept. 21.
The three, arrested on Sept. 20, include the group’s former spokesperson Chu Wai-ying, former secretary Chan Chi-sum, and convener Wong Yat-chin. Police had arrested Wong four times since Student Politicism was founded last May, but he had not been previously charged.
On Monday, national security police also raided the group’s premises and seized as evidence several boxes of goods prepared for inmates including, M&M chocolates, crackers, masks, hand cream, and books.
Steve Li, senior superintendent of the police national security bureau, suggested the group would send these items to “recruit followers” behind bars.
“Helping prisoners is not a problem, but it depends on the intention,” Li told reporters on Monday’s press conference.
“If the intention is to help prisoners with the same beliefs and to recruit followers … to continue to violate national security, it is a problem for sure.”
Li accused the three of spreading their political beliefs to others and setting up street booths to incite people “against the Hong Kong government and the Chinese Communist Party.”
The case was adjourned until Nov. 3 and transferred to the District Court for a formal trial. The three face up to seven years in jail if convicted.
The Beijing-imposed national security law criminalizes four broadly defined categories of offenses, including secession, subversion, and collusion with a foreign country. Persons found guilty of violating this law can face up to life in prison.
Some audience burst into tears as So announced the decision at the West Kowloon Court. “Why is it like this,” a girl said while crying.
More than 100 people have been arrested under the national security law since it came into force last July, mostly democratic politicians, activists, journalists, and students.
Wall-fare, a prisoners’ rights group that provided supplies for prisoners and connected them with pen-pals, disbanded last week after Hong Kong Security Chief Chris Tang had said inmates use items including sweets to recruit followers inside prison and endanger national security.
Reuters contributed to this report.