Hong Kong defense fund administrator arrested at airport: sources

Hui Po-keung, a Hong Kong academic who helped run a now-disbanded defense fund for democracy protesters, was arrested at the airport under the National Security Law – Copyright AFP ISAAC LAWRENCE

A Hong Kong academic who helped run a now disbanded defense fund for pro-democracy protesters has been arrested at the airport under the national security law, two legal sources told AFP on Wednesday.

Hui Po-keung, a prominent cultural studies scholar, was set to take up an academic post in Europe before he was arrested on Tuesday, the sources said, asking not to be named.

The arrest was confirmed by a second judicial source. Police have not yet responded to a request for comment.

Hui was arrested for “colluding with foreign forces”, a source said, an offense under a new security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in response to huge protests three years ago.

The law has crushed dissent in the once outspoken business center and can carry up to life in prison.

Hui was one of six trustees of the “612 Humanitarian Relief Fund” which helped arrested protesters pay their legal and medical bills.

Other trustees of the fund include retired cleric Cardinal Joseph Zen, veteran lawyer Margaret Ng, gay rights activist and pop singer Denise Ho, and imprisoned democracy activist Cyd Ho.

The fund was disbanded last year after the city’s National Security Police demanded it hand over operational details, including information about its donors and beneficiaries.

Shortly before the fund was closed, Lingnan University in Hong Kong confirmed that its contract with Hui had ended the previous month, but declined to give a reason for confidentiality reasons.

Academics who played leading roles in Hong Kong’s now largely decimated democracy movement have often found themselves abandoned by universities and struggling to find work.

An active social commentator and prolific author, Hui taught for more than two decades at Lingnan University and was credited by prominent former student leader Nathan Law for inspiring his political career.