Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong granted bail
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Police in Hong Kong have granted bail to well-known activist Joshua Wong and another core member of a pro-democracy group who were arrested as officers launched a crackdown on protests.
Pro-democracy group Demosisto said on social media that Mr Wong had been pushed into a private car at around 7.30am on Friday and was taken to police headquarters.
Shortly after Mr Wong was allegedly arrested, reports emerged that Hong Kong’s chief executive had a plan to appease the protesters rejected by Beijing in early August.
Carrie Lam is said to have drawn up a report that assessed the demonstrators’ five key demands, and advised that withdrawing a contentious extradition bill could help defuse the mounting political crisis.
China’s central government reportedly rejected the proposal and ordered Ms Lam not to give into to the protesters’ other demands, three anonymous sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
Beijing’s role in directing how Hong Kong handles the protests had been widely assumed, but there had so far been little concrete evidence to confirm the reports.
BREAKING: Our secretary-general @joshuawongcf was just arrested this morning at roughly 7:30, when he was walking to the South Horizons MTR station. He was forcefully pushed into a private minivan on the street in broad daylight. Our lawyers following the case now.
— Demosistō 香港眾志 (@demosisto) August 30, 2019
One of the sources is a senior government official in the Hong Kong administration, another has close ties with senior Hong Kong officials, and the third has been described as a senior Chinese official.
In addition to the withdrawal of the extradition bill, the other demands analysed in the report were said to be an independent inquiry into the protests, fully democratic elections, dropping of the term “riot” in describing protests, and dropping charges against those arrested so far.
Another weekend of planned protests is planned in the Chinese-ruled city of Hong Kong, that is facing its biggest political crisis since its handover to Beijing more than two decades ago.
Mr Wong is secretary-general of the group and was one of the student leaders of major pro-democracy demonstrations in 2014.
He was released from prison in June after serving a two-month sentence related to that protest, and has been speaking out in support of the pro-democracy protests that have taken place in Hong Kong this summer.
“He was suddenly pushed into a private car on the street,” Demosisto said on its official Twitter account.
“He has now been escorted to the police headquarters in Wan Chai,” it added.
Demosisto’s lawyers were working on the case, it said.
The group later said that another member, Agnes Chow, had also been arrested, though it was not clear what charges she faced.
Police did not confirm either arrest.
Andy Chan, a founder of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party that was banned last September, said on Facebook late on Thursday that he had been detained at Hong Kong’s international airport, adding he had been told he was about to be arrested.
Unrest in Hong Kong escalated two months ago over a now-suspended extradition bill that would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts.
It has since evolved into calls for greater democracy under the “one country, two systems” formula, which would guarantee freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland such as an independent judiciary, under which Hong Kong has been ruled since 1997.
China has accused foreign powers, particularly the US and Britain, of fuelling the demonstrations in the former British colony. It has warned against foreign governments interfering in the city’s protests.
Almost 900 people have been arrested since the demonstrations escalated in mid-June, which have involved police firing tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse activists.
On Thursday, China brought fresh troops into Hong Kong in what it described as a routine rotation of its garrison there.
Police have refused permission for a pro-democracy march on Saturday but organisers have appealed against the decision.