A Hong Kong opposition activist was arrested on Tuesday morning over an alleged assault that took place outside media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying’s national security law bail hearing last month.
Avery Ng Man-yuen stands accused of slapping a 46-year-old man outside the Court of Final Appeal on February 1, according to a police source. The activist said he was granted cash bail of HK$500 (US$64) at about 2pm after four hours of questioning.
Video footage posted to Ng’s Facebook page earlier in the day showed the secretary general of the League of Social Democrats being taken away by officers outside the court in Admiralty, the same spot where the alleged assault took place over a month earlier.
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Ng was at the city’s top court to support party vice-chairman “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, who is having his final appeal heard over a contempt conviction for snatching confidential documents from then undersecretary for development Eric Ma Siu-cheung at a 2016 Legislative Council session.
In the online footage, Ng is led away by three police officers. “It’s the charge of common assault,” he tells journalists in the video, adding he was unsure to which incident the charge was related.
Members of the League of Social Democrats said Ng was taken away at about 10.15am and sent to the Central Police station in Sheung Wan. They said lawyers were handling the case, although it remained unclear whether police would lay charges immediately.
Further details of the February 1 incident were later revealed by Ng, who shared a YouTube video uploaded by the alleged victim of the attack, an establishment supporter.
In the video posted by “Johnny Patriotic 101”, a man can be seen brandishing a megaphone and uttering words in Ng’s direction outside the Court of Final Appeal, where Next Digital founder Lai was due to attend a bail hearing.
After approaching the man, Ng’s left arm can be seen rising up and reaching out towards his right cheek, though a police officer standing between the two and the camera obstructs what follows.
Later in the video, the man identified himself as “Johnny” and said he had reported the incident to police.
Contacted by the Post on Tuesday, the YouTube channel’s owner identified himself as Johnny Tam Ming-kei, confirmed he was the man in the video, and said he had taken the matter to police the same day the alleged assault took place.
He said police also took a statement from him on February 1, and that he was expected to give a supplementary statement on Thursday.
Speaking after his release, Ng described the arrest as “inconceivable”.
“We have seen a lot of people face no consequences for their deeds as long as they do it ‘in the name of patriotism’,” said Ng, citing the infamous Yuen Long attack in which a group of white-clad men attacked protesters and passengers in a railway station on July 21, 2019.
“Pro-democracy figures, however, are often framed, when they are, in fact, the victims of harassment.”
Ng garnered public attention in 2017 after being convicted of hitting a police officer with a tuna sandwich he had hurled at former city leader Leung Chun-ying during a Legislative Council session.
The conviction was overturned on appeal in 2019 after the court ruled prosecutors had failed to prove officer Lau Wing-kwan was a victim by the principle of transferred malice.