Local media and human rights groups report that Hong Kong authorities have also blocked access to a democratic website that operates from the UK.
Yuen, a former member of the Canto-pop boy band E-kids, was arrested by National Security Police on suspicion of sedition and money laundering. He has not been charged.
Senior Superintendent Steve Lee declined to name Ewan as the 41-year-old man was taken away by national security officials. But during a press briefing, he said the man had been arrested for commenting publicly and online on social media, which was seen as “seditious intent”.
The seditious actions of the singer, according to Lee, included the performance of a song with the text “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our time” – a widely used slogan during the democratic protests of 2019 – at an online concert last November. Lee said that during the first national security hearing last July, the court found that the slogan could incite people to support Hong Kong’s secession from China. A man in the July case received nine years in prison for using a slogan on a vehicle.
Police also accused Yuen of spreading comments online to incite citizens to break the law, incite hatred against the Hong Kong judiciary and incite public hatred against police.
The singer was also accused of contradicting the city authorities’ strategy against the pandemic, claiming that those taking COVID-19 injections could die. For almost two years, Hong Kong has had a very low rate of virus infection. But since last month, the Omicron option has sparked thousands of new cases and exposed the city’s healthcare system as unprepared for such a big spike.
Police added that the singer was allegedly involved in a case of money laundering, and detained a 20-year-old unemployed man.
Meanwhile, the UK-based human rights group Hong Kong Watch said in a statement Tuesday that Internet service providers PCCW, CMHK and HKBN used DNS adjustments to block on-site access to their website.
This is not the first time Hong Kong authorities have reduced access to politically sensitive websites. Others, including HKChronicles.com, the Transitional Justice Commission and HK Charter 2021, have been banned in a similar way, according to Hong Kong Watch. They also have tried to close foreign siteswith mixed results.
“If this is not just a technical glitch and Hong Kong residents are no longer able to access our site because of the National Security Act, then this is a serious blow to online freedom,” said Benedict Rogers, CEO of Hong Kong Watch.
“Because of the constant number of website deletions, there are fears that China may start implementing its Great Internet Firewall in the city.”
This is a link to mainland China’s highly developed system of restricting access to thousands of political and news websites and pages, colloquially known as The The Great Chinese Firewall. China also denies its residents access to most social networks and search services run by Google, Facebook and Twitter.
They are currently available in Hong Kong, but authorities have forced the closure of local media operations that do not follow the pro-Beijing line and have no political voice. And Hong Kong’s pro-democracy celebrities have been largely silenced since the enactment of the National Security Act in late June 2020.
Singer Denise Ho was arrested by National Security Police in December due to her alleged connection to the independent online media Stand News, where Ho was previously a board member. Later, the media stopped and she was released on bail. Actor and singer Anthony Wong Yu-Min was accused of corruption for speaking at a rally, but the charge was later dropped.