20 January 2020
Superintendent Swalikh Mohammed (center) said more than 800 officers have reported that their personal information has been posted online without their consent in a practice called "doxxing". Photo: i-Cable News
Superintendent Swalikh Mohammed (center) said more than 800 officers have reported that their personal information has been posted online without their consent in a practice called "doxxing". Photo: i-Cable News

More than 20 arrested over doxxing, Legco rampage, clashes

Police have started going after those linked to various offenses related to protests against the now-suspended extradition bill.

At least 11 men and one woman, aged between 14 and 36, have been arrested in connection with clashes with police in Wan Chai and Tamar on Monday morning.

They were accused of various offenses, including possession of offensive weapons, unlawful assembly, assaulting a police officer and obstructing a police officer, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

On Wednesday morning, a 31-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of participating in the storming and vandalizing of the Legislative Council building on Monday night as well as in the siege of the police headquarters in Wan Chai almost two weeks ago.

On Tuesday, seven men and two women, aged 16 to 40, were arrested in various places for allegedly posting online the personal information of police officers, including their names and addresses, in a practice called “doxxing”.

They were arrested for access to computer with dishonest intent, disclosure of personal data without the owner’s consent, criminal damage and threats to destroy or damage property, Superintendent Swalikh Mohammed of the Technology Crime Division of the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau told media on Wednesday.

Mohammed said the personal information disclosed online included officers’ full Chinese and English names, Hong Kong identity card numbers and addresses.

Threatening messages

As a result of the doxxing incident, the affected officers had been receiving nuisance calls and threatening messages such as warnings that they would die soon, he said.

Mohammed said more than 800 officers have reported that their personal data have been leaked and 150 of the cases have been referred to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data for follow-through.

Mohammed also some people had tried to disable the police force’s website through a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, in which hackers flood a network with high volumes of traffic from various sources, thereby denying the service to regular users. The attempt failed.

Police did not rule out the arrest of more people in connection with similar cases, he said.

Meanwhile, the police said the actions they took in relation to the storming of the Legco complex were based on a number of considerations and continuing risk assessment.

One of the major considerations was to protect the safety of those present at the scene, including protesters, journalists and police officers, the police said in a press release issued on Wednesday night.

Critics have accused police of intentionally allowing radical protesters to enter the Legco building and damage the facilities inside, noting that the rampage lasted several hours before law enforcers finally started dispersal operations.

In the press release, police also said protesters were able to control the electrical installations inside the Legco building.

As such, the protesters could plunge the entire complex in total darkness at any time, increasing the risk faced by people at the scene.

Any police action may affect people’s emotions and aggravate the situation, the consequences of which may be unpredictable, police said.

Poisonous chemicals

Police also said they did not take immediate action because protesters used not only offensive weapons such as mills barriers and iron poles but also poisonous and inflammable chemicals against the officers.

Options for the officers were also very limited inside a confined indoor space, police said, adding that there were no serious casualties throughout the incident.

Meanwhile, the Practising Pharmacists Association of Hong Kong cautioned police on the use of tear gas and pepper spray against protesters.

Iris Chang Yee-man, president of the association, said since chemicals contained in such weapons might cause those who are allergic to the substances to faint, have difficulty in breathing, or even die, police should conduct evacuation before using them.

Chan also lashed out at protesters who used suspected toxic powder to attack the police in the Legco siege on Monday, RTHK reported.

The association said it will write to Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung to urge authorities to use the chemical agents sparingly.

In response, police said there are stringent guidelines for the use of force in place.

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