The three co-founders of a prominent group in Hong Kong’s 79-day long pro-democracy street protests surrendered to the police Saturday, but were later released unconditionally.
Academics Benny Tai, Chan Kin-man, and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming showed up at police headquarters in the morning for their scheduled “arrest appointment.” Gary Fan, a pro-democracy lawmaker, also turned himself in.
In early January, police had phoned 32 key figures of the Umbrella Movement—what pro-democracy supporters have dubbed their cause—telling them to turn themselves in at their HQ in Wan Chai to “assist in investigations” on specific dates or face home arrest.
According to a police spokesman, the Occupy trio were “arrested” on suspicion of organizing, participating, and inciting others to take part in an “illegal assembly,” Hong Kong media reports.
During police questioning,Tai, Chan, and Chu were shown clips of their promoting and being involved in the Occupy protests. The trio reportedly kept silent throughout the session, and were later let off without posting bail, according to the South China Morning Post.
Emerging from their three-hour long detention, the Occupy trio were greeted by Cardinal Joseph Zen—a notable pro-democracy advocate and Chinese regime critic—as well as dozens of supporters, who hoisted yellow umbrellas and chanted: “I want genuine universal suffrage.”
Tai, who wrote an article in 2013 about occupying key business districts in Hong Kong to protest the lack of truly free elections, told reporters outside police HQ that he has “faith in Hong Kong’s rule of law,” and will persist in promoting universal suffrage.
Gary Fan said the police were carrying out political prosecution, repeating an earlier accusation made by several protest group leaders and pan-democrat legislators.
The Occupy trio and Gary Fan are the last batch of key protest figures to be arrested over two weeks.
Police are supposedly targeting another 50 people in the next phase of “arrest appointments.”
Federation of Students leader Alex Chow has criticized the “arrest appointments” as being nothing more than a “public relations stunt,” a charge police commissioner Andy Tsang has recently denied, according to local broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong.