- Arrest of Cheng Lai-king, 61, chairwoman of Central and Western District Council, came after she forwarded post with details of officer
- Officer involved was said to have shot Indonesian journalist during anti-government protest last year
An opposition politician was arrested early on Thursday morning for allegedly breaching a court injunction banning the doxxing of Hong Kong police officers and their families.
Cheng Lai-king, 61, chairwoman of Central and Western District Council, was taken into custody after she forwarded a Facebook post on Wednesday that detailed the name and identification number of an officer said to have shot an Indonesian journalist during an anti-government protest in Wan Chai in September.
The journalist, who was left blind in one eye, has taken legal action to force the police commissioner to reveal the identity of the officer.
Cheng, a member of the Democratic Party, wrote in the post: "If this officer still has good conscience, please turn yourself in. An eye for an eye!"
Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung confirmed Cheng's arrest at midnight outside Kwai Chung Police Station.
"I understand that (her arrest) is related to reposting some online content," Hui said.
Hui said no family members or party colleagues had been allowed to visit Cheng.
Fred Ho Chun-ki, Cheng's lawyer, who is also from the Democratic Party, said police had yet to tell Cheng what charges she faced, although he believed the arrest was related to contravening the injunction prohibiting the doxxing of officers, and the alleged "inciting of rumours".
Any injunction order, which is a private civil claim in nature, would typically be enforced by a court bailiff. But the knowing violation of an injunction order, which intervened in the administration of justice, could also attract the criminal offence of contempt of court.
Doxxing a threat to society that must be stopped, Lam says
Pro-establishment lawmaker Elizabeth Quat said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that she had complained to the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data about Cheng violating the injunction.
On Thursday, the privacy watchdog said it had referred the matter to the Department of Justice.
But Ho believed that, with the midnight arrest, police were trying to send Cheng a message.
"Even if it's alleged contempt, any arrest will be done by prior appointment, the police don't have to do the midnight raid for the chairwoman of Central and Western District Council," Ho said.
"They are also trying to bring in another criminal charge to justify the arrest."
Cheng, who has held her seat on the council since 1994, became chairwoman after the pro-democracy camp's landslide victory in local elections last November.
She won praise from allies when she chaired a meeting in January, which police chief Chris Tang Ping-keung attended, where she ordered police officers who did not wear their identity cards to leave the room.
The High Court granted an interim injunction in October to help protect police from harassment by banning the publication of officers' personal details amid months of increasingly violent anti-government protests.
The demonstrations, which were triggered last June by a now-withdrawn extradition bill, later morphed into a wider anti-government movement that included calls for more democracy and an independent inquiry into police's handling of the protests.
The application for the injunction order, filed by the Department of Justice, was a move by police to counter malicious, public displays of officers' personal data, which had also hurt their families.
The scope of the order was extended in December to also cover police special constables, who were enlisted from the customs, immigration and correctional services departments to help ease the burden on the stretched force.
The order also barred anyone from "intimidating, molesting, harassing, threatening, pestering or interfering with" police officers and their families.
The court, however, exempted journalists from the ban on publishing officers' personal details.
Police said in January that at least 3,200 officers and their family members were doxxed and had their personal details maliciously displayed online, which often leads to further harassment. The force warned that culprits hiding behind the internet could also face legal consequences.
With nearly 5,000 doxxing cases during Hong Kong unrest, new powers mulled
Also in January, a 32-year-old bus driver was arrested over the doxxing of an officer who shot a protester in Sai Wan Ho in November.
The driver was arrested on suspicion of "disclosing personal data obtained without consent from the data user" while he was on duty in Ma On Shan.
He was alleged to have posted information including photos and personal details about the officer and his children " including the name of the school his two daughters attended.
Complaints received by the privacy watchdog had shot up from 57 in 2018 to a staggering 4,370 by the end of last year. About 36 per cent, or 1,580 cases, involved unauthorised disclosure of personal data belonging to police officers and their families, while 20 per cent, or 873 cases, concerned doxxing of protesters.
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