The group was reportedly trying to reach Taiwan when mainland authorities picked them up on August 23.
Chinese authorities have officially approved the arrest of 12 Hong Kong activists who were arrested last month while allegedly attempting to flee the area to Taiwan.
The group was picked up about 70 kilometers southeast of the city on August 23 when they tried to escape by boat. The authorities said they had been handed over to police in Shenzhen, the southern mainland city on the Hong Kong border.
The 12 had since disappeared into China’s opaque judicial system, and lawyers struggled to gain access to them, and family members expressed fear of their fate.
The Yantian District People̵
Two inmates, known as Deng and Qiao, were arrested on suspicion of helping the others escape Hong Kong.
These names probably referred to the Chinese surnames of the inmates Tang Kai-yin and Quinn Moon.
The other 10 – including suspects named Li and Huang – were arrested for illegally crossing borders.
The case is under further investigation, the statement added.
Families of the 12 said in a statement they were “shocked and concerned” about the permit.
The Hong Kong Security Bureau confirmed that mainland authorities informed local police of the permit on Wednesday, but declined to comment on the families’ complaints that lawyers are not allowed to visit detainees.
Some of those on board have been prosecuted in Hong Kong for activities related to the huge and often violent protests against democracy over the past year, the territory authorities said.
Lu Siwei, one of the mainland lawyers working on the case, told AFP news agency that pre-trial detention could last up to seven months.
“The legality check can be used at any time,” added Lu, but said that “the most important thing for now is to meet with the 12 people in custody.”
Activists said at least 14 mainland lawyers hired by the detainees’ families were pressured by the authorities to drop their clients.
None of the attorneys managed to arrest his clients, while senior officials in Hong Kong said the 12 had been hired by mainland Chinese authorities.
Hong Kong has its own internationally recognized legal system in which detainees are brought to justice and brought to justice immediately after their arrest. However, the system on the mainland is notoriously opaque and controlled by the Communist Party. Conviction is as good as guaranteed.
In June, Beijing passed a new security law against Hong Kong, announcing that it was responsible for some crimes and that mainland security forces could operate openly in the city.
The prospect of people in Hong Kong becoming embroiled in China’s judicial system sparked months of protests last year after the government allowed extraditions to the mainland. The demonstrations soon evolved into broader demands for democracy and greater police accountability, and sometimes turned into violence.
When Beijing cracked down on the democracy movement in Hong Kong, self-governing Taiwan, one of the region’s most vibrant democracies, has become a haven, quietly turning a blind eye to residents who show up without proper visas or papers.