A maverick Hong Kong lawmaker was arrested Monday for allegedly assaulting a police officer during a protest sparked by Beijing's decision to rule out direct elections in the territory until 2017, police and the politician said.
Leung Kwok-hung was taken from his home early Monday morning and questioned about an alleged assault during a protest on Dec. 29, a police spokeswoman said, requesting anonymity in line with policy.
The activist-turned-lawmaker, also known as "Long Hair" for his waist-length ponytail, said he was held for several hours and then released on bail and ordered to report back to police on Jan. 28.
Leung denied hitting a police officer during the protest Saturday, in which he and several colleagues from the League of Social Democrats burnt a tire outside the offices of Hong Kong's leader, or chief executive.
"There was a scuffle. The police tried to put out the fire with a spray," he told The Associated Press.
Party chairman Albert Chan called the charges "exaggerated" and accused police of using heavy-handed tactics to discourage people from protesting.
On Saturday, Beijing said Hong Kong could not directly elect its leader until 2017, drawing sharp criticism from the pro-democracy camp who had campaigned heavily for the earlier date of 2012.
Several hundred people marched through the city accusing Beijing of cheating them out of their right to a democratically elected government.
When Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, Beijing pledged to ultimately allow universal suffrage in Hong Kong, although a date was never given.
Currently, only half the legislature is chosen through popular elections, while the remainder are picked by industry and other functional groups. The territory's leader is picked by an 800-member committee that is stacked with Beijing loyalists.