Hong Kong police on Wednesday arrested 90-year-old Catholic Cardinal Joseph Zen for allegedly collaborating with foreign forces through a fund dedicated to supporting members of pro-democracy protest movements in the city in 2019. He was released hours later on bail.
Born in Shanghai, China, Zen is Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong. He was named a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006 and retired three years later. Since then, he has been an exponent of the defense of human rights and political and religious freedoms.
Zen played an active role during the 2019 protests and was one of the trustees of the now-defunct 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund.
In addition to the religious, Canadian artist Denise Ho, lawyer Margaret Ng and former legislator Cyd Ho, all also administrators of the fund, were detained, according to the South China Morning Post.
The arrests came a day after another fund manager, academic Hui Po-keung, was intercepted and arrested at the Hong Kong airport as he was about to board a flight to Germany. Hui was also accused of alleged collaboration with foreign forces.
The four detainees on Wednesday were taken to different police stations, although Cyd Ho was already serving two sentences related to the 2019 protests.
The charges brought against them are covered by the National Security Law imposed by Beijing in June 2020 in the wake of the 2019 pro-democracy protests. The maximum penalty under the law is life imprisonment.
The fund managed by the four people arrested was created in June 2019, at the beginning of the protests, with the aim of helping people with few financial resources who were arrested or injured for participating in the protests.
In August of last year, the organization was criticized by the Hong Kong press, which was sympathetic to the Chinese dictatorship, for its alleged connections with foreign countries, and shortly afterwards it became extinct.
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