291 detained on national security charges as of early March, 112 convicted so far

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17th April 2024 – (Hong Kong) As of early last month, Hong Kong authorities have detained 291 individuals suspected of activities threatening national security, with those charged ranging in age from 15 to 90 years old. More than 170 people and five corporations face prosecution, of which 112 have already been convicted, sentenced, or are awaiting sentencing.

The data, provided by the government in response to legislative queries on the budget, underscore the breadth of enforcement under the National Security Law (NSL) since its enactment. This law has led to a palpable shift towards stabilisation in the region, although certain activities promoting local terrorism have increasingly gone underground.

Officials noted a concerning trend where a minority of extremists are utilising the internet to spread radical ideologies and incite violent actions. Despite these challenges, the current terrorism threat level in Hong Kong remains at “moderate.” This status indicates a potential risk of attack, though there is no specific intelligence suggesting Hong Kong as a target.

In light of the growing digital threats, the authorities are drafting new legislation and practical guidelines to combat five categories of cybercrimes. These laws aim to establish cybersecurity responsibilities for operators of critical infrastructure, with plans to present the draft to the Legislative Council within this year.

The government’s internal memo also highlighted ongoing expenses related to counter-terrorism efforts, which involve details of government operations thus deemed inappropriate for public disclosure. Furthermore, officials are employing accumulated experience and operational models to efficiently address and rebut any defamation concerning the implementation of national security laws.