Netizens calling on Hong Kong people to occupy the Legislative Council and suggesting ways of doing it may be charged with criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison. However, calling for the overthrow of the Hong Kong government is not a crime.
These are the views of a barrister in reaction to some online posts following last Friday’s mass action against the government’s northeastern New Territories development plan, where protesters clashed with police as they tried to break into the Legco building.
Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said internet posts calling for protesters to occupy Legco may have violated the ordinance against “access to computer with criminal or dishonest intent”, Headline Daily reported on Monday. A person convicted of the offense may be jailed for up to five years, he said.
However, it is not a crime to say “overthrow the Hong Kong government” as the city has yet to enact an anti-subversion act to implement Article 23 of the Basic Law, Luk said.
On hkgolden.com, a social media platform, a netizen opened the conversation topic “How to break into the Legco effectively” and invited others to contribute ideas on strategies, equipment, manpower, courses of action and back-up plans.
Some netizens who joined the online discussion suggested ways for protesters to protect themselves from pepper spray used by law enforcers and called for the use of hydraulic cutters and screwdrivers to open the gates. Others proposed routes to enter Legco and even uploaded the floor plan of the building for better planning.
The posts came after police arrested 13 protesters for obstruction and assault for trying to enter the Legco Building by force on Friday. The clashes occurred at the height of a rally against government plans to develop the northeastern New Territories.
Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said the protest action and the subsequent clashes were covered by media and broadcast live on many television channels so the public could judge for themselves whether the police action was warranted or not.
Lai declined to comment on complaints that some protesters were allegedly beaten up inside the police cars after they were arrested.
He also pledged prompt and adequate action if Legco seeks police support.
Legco president Jasper Tsang said he will talk with his fellow lawmakers and police about arrangements for another protest action scheduled outside Legco this Friday to prevent a repeat of last week’s chaos.
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