An elderly Catholic cardinal critical of Beijing and a Cantonese pop star are among a group of veteran democracy advocates who have been arrested under Hong Kong's national security law, legal and police sources said Wednesday.
Those arrested were all trustees of a now-disbanded fund that helped finance demonstrators detained during massive democracy protests that swept Hong Kong three years ago.
Retired cleric Cardinal Joseph Zen and singer Denise Ho were among those detained, a police source and a legal source confirmed to AFP.
Zen, who recently turned 90, is a former bishop of Hong Kong and one of the most senior Catholic clerics in the Chinese business hub.
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He has been critical of the Vatican's decision to reach a compromise with China over the appointment of bishops on the mainland and an advocate of Hong Kong's democracy movement.
Ho is a popular local vocalist and an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights.
Prominent cultural studies scholar Hui Po-keung was arrested at Hong Kong's airport on his way to take up an academic post in Europe on Tuesday, two legal sources previously confirmed to AFP.
Hui was arrested for "collusion with foreign forces", one source said, an offence under a security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in response to the democracy protests.
Three legal sources said veteran barrister Margaret Ng was also arrested.
Police have yet to issue a statement on the arrests.
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The security law has crushed dissent in the once outspoken business hub and can carry up to life in jail.
Those arrested were among five trustees of the "612 Humanitarian Relief Fund", which helped arrested protesters pay their legal and medical bills.
Another trustee, democracy activist Cyd Ho, has already been jailed for unauthorised assembly in a separate case.
The fund disbanded last year after the city's national security police demanded it hand over operational details including information about its donors and beneficiaries.
Shortly before the fund closed in October, Hong Kong's Lingnan University said its contract with Hui had ended but declined to state a reason on privacy grounds.
Academics who played prominent roles in Hong Kong's now decimated democracy movement have often found themselves dropped by universities and are struggling to find work.
A social commentator and prolific author, Hui taught for more than two decades at Lingnan University and was credited by former student leader Nathan Law with inspiring his political career.