China wants to silence Hong Kongers even as it persecutes them. A court judgment released Friday shows that a judge penalized former pro-democracy lawmaker and journalist
for speaking to Western journalists, including our own
Police arrested Ms. Mo, along with nearly the entire opposition movement, in January. She and 46 others are charged with conspiracy to commit subversion under the national security law for organizing or participating in an informal pro-democracy primary election last July. Judge
denied Ms. Mo bail in April, and the world learned why on Friday.
The national security law prohibits “collusion” with vaguely defined foreign forces and states that defendants may not receive bail “unless the judge has sufficient grounds” to believe that they “will not continue to commit acts endangering national security.” As a reason to keep Ms. Mo behind bars, prosecutor
described Ms. Mo’s WhatsApp correspondence with these pages, the New York Times, Bloomberg and the BBC.
In a court filing explaining her denial of bail, Judge Toh quotes from an Oct. 1, 2020, conversation Ms. Mo had with Ms. Melchior about 12 Hong Kongers who were captured after they tried to escape to Taiwan by boat.
Ms. Mo told Ms. Melchior: “The detention and treatment of the 12 Hong Kong protesters serve as the ultimate warning and threat to Hongkongers about what one can face if you’re caught. The new security law and the spate of arrests have worked as a scare tactic, probably fairly successfully—at sending a persistent political chill around the city.” Every word of that is true, and it was hardly a secret.
As a lawmaker, Ms. Mo fought for the liberties that China guaranteed to Hong Kong in its 1984 treaty with Britain. Her Legislative Council office sat across from the Hong Kong garrison of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, and she decorated her windows with pro-democracy posters. Under the national security law, Ms. Mo now faces up to life in prison.
The Communist Party fears Ms. Mo because in the November 2019 district council elections, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp won in a landslide. Hong Kong’s government then used Covid as an excuse to cancel elections for the Legislative Council.
Judge Toh wrote in Friday’s filing that “it is submitted” by the Hong Kong government “that had the Election not been postponed,” then the opposition’s “conspiracy would have been carried out to fruition.” Get it: A free election is a conspiracy in Hong Kong. This is a tacit admission that if Hong Kongers could freely choose their representatives, they’d elect lawmakers like Ms. Mo. Instead, the Communist Party is locking away the opposition and denying bail for the crime of messaging with the press. Live and work in Hong Kong at your peril.
As we’ve said before, jailed publisher
and Hong Kong’s other brave democrats deserve the Nobel Peace Prize.
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