TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The student admin for a Telegram app group linked to the Hong Kong extradition bill protesters was arrested by police on “public nuisance” charges on Tuesday (June 11).
Protesters against the extradition bill in Hong Kong have been forming groups on social media and through apps to share news or get help. The Telegram app is favored by protesters because of its privacy functions and the arrested admin was named by Hong Kong portal Stand News as Ivan Ip.
The 22-year-old student was admin for the @parade69 (公海總谷) group on Telegram, which was followed by about 30,000 people. According to Stand News, police searched his residence in the New Territories at about 8 p.m. on Tuesday.
Ip was quoted as saying the police demanded he unlock his mobile phone and export to their computer all his Telegram data, including member list and chat records. At about 1 a.m. on Wednesday morning the police arrested Ip on public nuisance charges and continued to interrogate him about the Telegram group.
Ip was eventually released on bail at 4 a.m. He told Stand News that he had not protested on the streets himself, merely shared news about the protest electronically. He said he was shocked to be arrested just for sending messages and sharing posts on the internet.
Another unidentified admin of @parade69 confirmed the arrest via a pinned announcement in the group. The group has been shut down by the creator and admins to protect the safety of its members.
The police replied to Stand News’ inquiries by saying they arrested Ip because the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau (CSTCB) had enough evidence to believe that Ip and other members were plotting an attack on the Legislative Council.
The nine key advocates of the 2014 Occupy Central protest were also prosecuted on public nuisance charges.
Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu (楊岳橋) said it was obvious the Telegram group had been formed by protestors to facilitate communication. “How can the police arrest ordinary citizens on such controversial charges?” Yeung said.