A polling firm helping operate a pro-democratic primary election was raided by Hong Kong police on Friday.
Officers occupied the office of the Public Opinion Research Institute, which is assisting pro-democratic forces conduct a primary election on Saturday and Sunday, using a warrant based on what they said were claims that private information, including that of police officers, had been leaked to the public, possibly by the PORI itself.
The organization says it’s been subject to sophisticated cyberattacks around election cycles since 2012. With different news outlets reporting conflicting information, it is difficult to ascertain whether devices from the research institute were confiscated by police. The police were able to obtain some information from the institute’s files. What they obtained specifically remains unclear.
“We fervently hope that the police will not copy data that touches upon personal information, though we cannot guarantee,” said Chung Kim-Wah, the institute’s deputy director.
Au Nok-hin, a former pro-democracy lawmaker who was helping organize the primaries, said on Twitter that the raid was “very likely related to the primary vote, to create a threatening effect.”
The group does not believe the raid will affect the weekend’s primary.
On Thursday, Hong Kong’s constitutional affairs minister warned that the primary may be in violation of the “subversion” portion of China’s new “national security” law for the territory because the group plans to vote against the territory’s budget. This signals that those who organize or participate in the primary could be subject to years in prison.
“As long as there are many people who persist in using their votes to reject lies, we can still see flickers of light in dark times and sustain the spirit of resistance,” said Benny Tai, a law professor and pro-democracy activist.
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