Hong Kong Catholic cardinal released on bail after crackdown
Hong Kong, May 12 (EFE).- Catholic cardinal Joseph Zen, aged 90, has been released on bail, hours after he was arrested by Hong Kong authorities on Wednesday evening on charges of colluding with foreign forces through a now-dissolved fund, aimed at helping the participants in the 2019 pro-democracy protests.
Police sources confirmed to EFE on Thursday that Zen left the Chai Wan police station at 11.15 pm on Wednesday in the company of two other Catholic officials.
Along with Zen, Canadian-Hong Kong-based singer Denise Ho, well-known lawyer Margaret Ng and former lawmaker Cyd Ho were also granted bail after being arrested on Wednesday as the former trustees of the same fund, local media outlets reported.
Authorities have confiscated the passports of all four accused to prevent them from leaving Hong Kong, with the police expected to issue a statement in this record in the next few hours.
Zen, who was the Bishop of Hong Kong and named cardinal in 2006 before retiring three years later, played an active role during the 2019 anti-government protests and is a well known pro-democracy activist in the city state.
The charges against all the detainees have been framed under the National Security Law imposed by Beijing in 2020 after the extended 2019 protests, which resulted in violent clashes for months.
The law carries life imprisonment as the maximum punishment.
The 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, managed by the four detainees, was established in June 2019 at the beginning of one of the major protests, aiming to help the people who were arrested or injured while participating in the demonstrations and lacking resources.
In August 2021, the organization came under fire from pro-Beijing local media outlets for its alleged links with foreign countries, and was dissolved soon after.
The Vatican, the European Union, governments of the United States and Canada and human rights groups have expressed concern over the Church leader and the three other officials of 612 Fund being arrested. EFE