5 nabbed in HK as protests thin
HONG Kong police said yesterday that they arrested five people over hacking allegations, after the "hacktivist" group Anonymous declared a cyberwar against the city due to the treatment of pro-democracy protesters.
This came even as the protesters saw their ranks thinned yesterday as they prepared for talks with the government on demands for free elections.
Anonymous on Wednesday threatened online sabotage against the police and government, after the police unleashed tear gas on protesters.
Police senior superintendent Hui Chun Tak said five people, between the ages of 13 and 39, were arrested for "accessing a computer with criminal or dishonest intent".
The protesters are demanding free and open elections to select the former British colony's next leader in 2017. China's authorities said that only pre-approved candidates will be able to run.
But normalcy has begun to set in. Yesterday, civil servants were back in their offices after students removed some barricades in response to an ultimatum from the city's leader to restore access or face possible police action.
In the Central Business District, bankers and traders returned to work. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority asked banks to resume services as soon as possible. Seven bank branches remained closed, it said. Almost 50 branches were shuttered at the peak of the protests last week.
But the protesters would not withdraw totally until there are concessions from the government, said Alex Chow, secretary-general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students.
With the rallies entering their 11th day, the number of demonstrators dropped to the hundreds from a peak of as many as 200,000.
The police allowed barriers erected by demonstrators to remain on roads unmanned after student leaders said they would pull out of talks aimed at resolving the situation if protest sites were not protected.
Student leaders met government officials on Sunday to map out further talks with the city's second-highest ranking official, Carrie Lam.
The government and students have not announced a second round of talks. But leading academics, including Albert Chan, Hong Kong Baptist University president, and both pan-democratic and pro-Beijing politicians have called for an end to the demonstrations to avoid further violence.