TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The lawyer who has assisted hundreds of arrested pro-democracy protesters and helped set up a restaurant employing Hongkongers in Taipei was among the nearly dozen arrested Thursday (Jan. 14) for allegedly helping the "Hong Kong 12" in their attempt to flee for Taiwan.
Daniel Wong Kwok-tung (黃國桐), Hong Kong attorney and Kowloon district councilor, is one of 11 arrested Thursday morning in the latest episode of the special administrative region's purge of pro-democracy elements following the passage of its national security act last summer. The detainees include eight men and three women ranging from 18 to 72 years of age, according to local reports.
They are accused of aiding the "Hong Kong 12" in their ill-fated attempted escape to Taiwan in a speedboat last August. The Chinese coast guard intercepted their vessel, and they were held incommunicado in Shenzhen until their trial rather than being returned to Hong Kong to face prosecution.
After a brief trial last month that the defendants' families and international observers were barred from attending, the 10 adults of the group were sentenced to between seven months and 3 years. The two minors were transferred back to Hong Kong.
Thursday's arrests come just a week after city authorities conducted mass arrests of an unprecedented scale. Over 50 pro-democratic activists and current and former legislators were rounded up for suspected violations of the nebulous national security law.
Wong posted on his Facebook page at 6:10 a.m. that national security police had shown up at his house, adding that he did not know which police station he would be taken to but that updates would be forthcoming.
The lawyer is known for providing pro bono assistance to hundreds arrested during the months-long protest movement that was increasingly marked by disproportionate police violence and arbitrary detentions, ultimately leading to Beijing's promulgation of the national security law. The law is now being used to target the last leaders of the democratic camp still left in the city.
Last year, Wong also helped establish Aegis (保護傘), a Hong Kong protest-themed restaurant in Taipei's Da'an District that hires young Hongkongers who need employment to continue residing in the Taiwanese capital. Several men vandalized the restaurant in October in exchange for payment by an individual based in China with suspected Chinese Communist Party loyalties.