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Hong Kong police arrests rights activist Albert Ho

Ho was arrested Tuesday for 'allegedly interfering with witnesses' while on bail
In this file photo taken on January 9, 2017, Albert Ho, politician and chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, participates in a protest against the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown beside an advertisement for the controversial Hong Kong Palace Museum in Hong Kong

In this file photo taken on January 9, 2017, Albert Ho, politician and chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, participates in a protest against the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown beside an advertisement for the controversial Hong Kong Palace Museum in Hong Kong. (Photo: AFP)

Published: March 21, 2023 12:05 PM GMT
Updated: March 21, 2023 12:13 PM GMT

One of Hong Kong's best-known rights activists was arrested by the city's national security police on Tuesday over alleged witness tampering, a police source told AFP.

Albert Ho, 71, formerly led the now-disbanded Hong Kong Alliance, which organised an annual candlelight vigil for more than three decades to mourn the victims of China's bloody crackdown at Tiananmen Square in 1989.

The lawyer is already facing up to a decade in jail over an "incitement to subversion" charge under the national security law, which Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in 2020 after widespread and sometimes violent pro-democracy protests.

Ho was arrested Tuesday for "allegedly interfering with witnesses" while on bail, said the source, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.

The veteran activist was led away from his residence -- his hands cuffed behind his back -- by a group of officers in jackets bearing national security department badges at around noon, local media footage showed.

Police later released a statement confirming the arrest of a 71-year-old man on suspicion of "perverting the course of public justice", but did not identify him.

The trial in Ho's subversion case is pending, and he was granted bail in August after spending almost a year in prison. His bail conditions included a gag order on any speech deemed a threat to national security.

Violation of bail conditions can lead to immediate arrest under Hong Kong law.

Ho's arrest was the latest in a series of high-profile detentions under the national security law, including that of his brother, Fred Ho, who was representing labour rights activist Elizabeth Tang Yin-Ngor.

Tang, the secretary-general of the International Domestic Workers Federation, was arrested on suspicion of "colluding with foreign forces", also a national security offence.

After her release on bail, police arrested Fred Ho and Tang's sister on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Both have since been released on bail.

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