Wong was already in prison, serving a 13.5-month sentence for his role in demonstrations during the 2019 pro-democracy protest movement. On Thursday, a post on Wong’s verified Facebook page stated that he was transferred from prison to a detention center, where officers questioned him the police.
An aide who was managing Wong’s social media accounts confirmed his arrest to CNN.
The post claimed that Wong’s lawyer was unable to reach him when the police took the statement. CNN has contacted Hong Kong police for comment.
Wong’s arrest was the latest to be made under the auspices of Beijing’s new national security law, which on Wednesday saw police arrest 53 people in dawn raids on democracy activists across the city.
The law criminalizes acts of secession, sabotage, terrorism, and colluding with foreign forces, and is punishable by life imprisonment. Such vague standards have given authorities sweeping powers to quell opponents of the government as Beijing continues to tighten its control over the semi-autonomous city.
Hong Kong officials had previously promised that the law would in fact be limited, targeting only a small number of marginalized activists. However, critics claim that since its introduction, the law has been used to forcefully wipe out the once vibrant pro-democracy movement in the city.
Primary elections are a normal function in democracies around the world. At the time of the vote in Hong Kong, the Democratic primary in the United States, which was won by President-elect Joe Biden, was still going on.
Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists have made such voices in the past, trying to emulate the organization and discipline of the rival pro-Beijing camp and avoid splitting support.
The city’s security secretary, John Lee, said Wednesday that the primary election organizers seek to “paralyze the Hong Kong government” by winning a majority in the Legislative Council.
Police told CNN that of the 53 arrested on Wednesday, 52 were released on bail, but are required to hand over travel documents and file a report to the police again in early February.
The remaining activist, former pro-democracy lawmaker Wu Zhi-wai, was brought to court on Thursday after police said he had failed to deliver all travel documents when applying for bail in a previous case.
Lester Shum, a district councilor who was among those released on bail, described the mass detention as “absurd”.
“I think it is ridiculous because he does not claim that I have said anything after participating in the Legislative Council elections. He is only accusing me of sabotage because we all participated in the democratic primaries,” he said.
Among those arrested is the American lawyer John Clancy, who was released on bail without charges. A fellow in a Hong Kong law firm, Clancy also worked as a treasurer of the Power for Democracy, a pro-democracy group in Hong Kong that was involved in organizing the primaries.
He told CNN on Thursday that police had confiscated his US passport. His company, HO TSE WAI & Partners, was also subjected to a police raid on Thursday, according to its partner. Clancy is the first foreign citizen without a Hong Kong passport to be arrested under the National Security Act.
The mass arrests were met with strong condemnation from several countries. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States will consider imposing sanctions in response to the arrests, specifically referring to Clancy’s arrest. “I am appalled by the news of the arrest of an American citizen as part of this political crackdown,” he said in a statement. The United States supports the Hong Kong people and all those who yearn for freedom. “
Other governments have also expressed criticism and concern about the arrests, including the United Kingdom, the European Union and Taiwan.
“The National Security Law is being used to crush dissent and stifle the exercise of human rights and political freedoms that are protected by Hong Kong’s Basic Law, as well as international law and China’s international obligations and commitments,” said European Commission spokesman Peter Stano. On Wednesday, he added that the European Union called for the “immediate release” of the detainees.