Hong Kong | police raided the Hong Kong offices of a polling institute that helps the opposition to hold primaries in view of the September legislative elections in the territory, announced on Saturday that the head of this institute.
This search, which took place Friday evening on the eve of the elections this weekend, comes at a time when China promulgated on June 30, a draconian law on the national security, imposed in Hong Kong after months of mass demonstrations last year.
Robert Chung, president of the Public Opinion Research Institute (PORI), an independent institute for opinion studies, explained to journalists that police have copied files from computers.
The police said they acted after reports that the computers of PORI had suffered a security breach which results in a leak of illegal personal data.
Mr. Chung said they had obtained a “verbal commitments” of the police not to use information that is not related to the suspected leak.
PORI has helped the pro-democracy organize the primary, which will nominate candidates in the elections to the legislative Council scheduled for 6 September. Mr. Chung has assured that the voting system was secure and that the operations were legal and transparent. “The primary elections are a peaceful approach, rational and non-violent in order to express the public opinion”, he said.
An ex-member pro-democracy, The Nok-hin, who helped organize the poll, said for his part that the police sought to interfere in the activities of the opposition. “This incident is very likely related to the primary and is aimed at creating a deterrent effect”, he said in a press release.
Long queues were visible in several neighborhoods to vote for these primary, open Saturday at noon.
PORI holds regular public opinion surveys on the popularity of the leaders and the police have shown a drop in confidence in them since the protests. His most recent study, published Friday, shows that 61 % of the respondents think that Hong Kong is no longer a “free city” since the entry into force of the last week of the new law on national security.
This law aims to suppress subversion, secession, terrorism and the collusion with the foreign forces, in response to the protest movement aimed for last year in this territory semi-autonomous to the central government.
It is the most radical for Hong Kong since its handover by the Uk to China in 1997. The activists pro-democracy there fear an erosion of unprecedented freedoms and of the autonomy granted to the former british colony.