Hong Kong police arrested a prominent cardinal and four aid workers for allegedly “colluding with foreign forces,” claiming they violated a national security law, it was revealed Wednesday.
Cardinal Joseph Zen and the four staffers were picked up by Hong Kong police after an eight-month investigation into the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, which helped pro-democracy protesters pay their legal and medical fees, a legal source told Reuters.
Zen was “arrested and is being questioned,” said a police official.
Hong Kong police and the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese have not issued any statements on the arrests.
Zen, who is one of Asia’s most senior clerics, has spoken out against Chinese President Xi Jinping and the growing authoritarianism in China under his rule several times.
Pop singer and activist Denise Ho, former lawyer Margaret Ng, ex-lawmaker Cyd Ho and academic Hui Po-keung also face charges of collusion and could potentially face life in prison should they be convicted.
The charges stem from a law that was imposed in 2020 that punishes all acts of terrorism, collusion with foreign forces, subversion and secession with life imprisonment.
US officials have said they are concerned about Hong Kong’s crackdown on religious groups.
“All I can tell you is that I think we’re increasingly troubled by steps in Hong Kong to pressure and eliminate civil society,” US Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell said.
Hong Kong authorities have said the new laws have brought stability to the city since the 2019 riots over the controversial legislation.
With Post wires