Freelance ITV News journalist Wilson Li arrested in Hong Kong under security law

Video report by ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edward

A freelance ITV News journalist has been arrested in Hong Kong over the newly implemented national security law.

Wilson Li has been arrested on suspicion of collusion with foreign powers, along with activist Andy Li.

An ITV News spokesperson said: “We can confirm that Wilson Li works for ITV News in a freelance capacity. We are concerned to hear of his arrest and are urgently seeking clarification of the circumstances.”

He is the ninth man to be arrested on Monday under the new controversial law and his arrest follows that of Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai.

“Jimmy Lai is being arrested for collusion with foreign powers at this time,” his aide Mark Simon wrote on Twitter.

Mr Lai owns the popular tabloid Apple Daily and is an outspoken pro-democracy figure in Hong Kong and regularly criticises China’s authoritarian rule.

ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edward has more:

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said the government was “deeply concerned” over the arrests.

“Freedom of the press is explicitly guaranteed in the Sino-British joint declaration and basic law and is supposed to be protected under article four of the national security law," he said, adding:

“This is further evidence that the national security law is being used as a pretext to silence opposition. The Hong Kong authorities must uphold the rights and the freedoms of its people.”

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, center is arrested by police officers at his home. Credit: AP

Mr Simon said that police searched both Mr Lai and his son’s home, as well as other members of media group Next Digital, which Mr Lai founded.

Over a hundred police also raided Next Digital’s headquarters in Hong Kong, entering the newsroom and searching the desks.

The national security law came into effect on June 30 and is widely seen as a means to curb dissent after anti-government protests rocked Hong Kong last year.

The law targets secession, subversion, terrorism and colluding with foreign forces with punishments up to life in prison.

Acts of vandalism against government facilities or public transport can be prosecuted as subversion or terrorism, while anyone taking part in activities deemed as secessionist would also be in violation of the new law.

The law directly targets some of the actions of anti-government protesters last year, which included attacks on government offices and police stations, damage to subway stations, and the shutdown of the city’s international airport.

The new national security law further blurs the distinction between the legal systems of semi-autonomous Hong Kong, which maintained aspects of British law after the 1997 handover, and the mainland’s authoritarian Communist Party system.