Hong Kong pop star Denise Ho arrested by national security police

By Jessie Yeung, CNN

Cantopop star and prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Denise Ho was arrested from her home on Wednesday morning by the city’s national security police.

She was one of six people arrested in a morning operation, all linked to the online media organization Stand News. Police later confirmed at a press conference that a seventh person had been arrested. They were charged by police with “conspiracy to publish seditious material”, a colonial-era crime.

The star, who was born in Hong Kong but raised in Canada, rose to prominence in the early 2000s with a string of hit albums, before later embarking on a stellar acting career.

She went on to become an international face of Hong Hong’s pro-democracy movement, appearing before the United Nations and the United States Congress.

Police spent more than two hours at Ho’s home on Wednesday, according to his assistant, who requested anonymity. Officers seized phones and computers, as well as Ho’s identity card and passport. She was then taken to a police station, according to an article posted on Ho’s verified Facebook page.

Also on Wednesday, some 200 police officers raided the offices of Stand News and seized journalistic material, according to the Hong Kong government and the Hong Kong Journalists Association – raising new concerns over diminished freedoms of the press following the imposition of a sweeping national security law in the city. in 2020.

The Hong Kong government has repeatedly denied criticism that the law – which criminalizes acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces – has stifled freedoms, claiming instead that it has restored order in the city after the 2019 protest movement.

Ho was previously a board member of Stand News.

Although she first became interested in politics in 2012 after coming out as a gay, it was the 2014 student-led Umbrella Movement – a series of protests and sit-ins. in massifs in favor of democracy – which has seen it play a more important role. She took to the streets, becoming one of the movement’s most vocal supporters and one of the last to be arrested by police when they cleared the protest camps.

“I have this young generation listening to my music,” Ho told CNN in 2017. “So I think I have a responsibility to do the right thing and not to create fear with my actions.”

When pro-democracy and anti-government protests consumed Hong Kong again in 2019, it continued to march with the protesters – but also used its platform to seek support internationally.

In July 2019, she spoke at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, urging the UN to “protect the people of Hong Kong” and remove China from the council. She argued that China reneged on commitments it made when it took control of Hong Kong in 1997, echoing the concerns of millions of Hong Kong people protesting at the time.

During the UN speech, Chinese diplomats repeatedly interrupted her, accusing her of violating the UN constitution and “baseless” attack on the “one country, two systems” model of governance. Hong Kong.

His activism has had other repercussions over the years as well, including his blacklisting and censorship in mainland China.

Chinese state media have called Ho “Hong Kong poison” in previous years. In 2016, amid criticism from Ho from Beijing, luxury brand Lancome canceled a promotional concert featuring the star, citing “security reasons.”

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CNN’s Nectar Gan, James Griffiths, Teele Rebane and Jadyn Sham contributed reporting.

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