Man arrested after taking picture of Hong Kong police in restaurant, with councillor decrying incident as ‘arbitrary arrest’

Zoe Low

A man was held for assault and possession of illegal weapons on Tuesday after allegedly catching two off-duty policemen on camera while taking pictures of a Sham Shui Po food court, in what a local councillor decried as an “arbitrary arrest”.

Police said the man, a 23-year-old surnamed Ho, had aimed a flashlight at the officers so they took him to a police station for further investigation. He was still under detention by 11pm, but had been sent to Caritas Medical Centre after he said he felt unwell.

Sham Shui Po district councillor Leos Lee Man-ho, who said he got to the Kitchen Food Court minutes after the arrest at about 3pm, said that Ho’s father claimed his son was beaten at the police station and that he had not heard anything about a flashlight.

“It is definitely an arbitrary arrest. Taking pictures is not illegal,” Lee said. He said diners at the venue inside the Dragon Centre mall told him Ho had been taking photos of the area when the two off-duty policemen approached him and said he had taken their pictures.

Legal test for warrants that let Hong Kong police search phones

In two videos shared on social media, the young man is seen being detained and held against a wall by two men. “Am I not allowed to take a picture?” Ho asks the men, one of whom claims he violated his privacy by taking a picture of him.

Ho then shows the two men the pictures on his phone and asks if they are in the pictures. One of the men repeatedly tells him: “You caught me on camera.” There is no mention of Ho using a flashlight in either of the two 50-second clips, nor can he be seen holding one.

One video shows other diners demanding to know if the two men are police officers, and one of them eventually showing his warrant card. They tell Ho they are taking him to the police station and will investigate the contents of his mobile phone.

Police said they found an 18cm (7-inch) flashlight and flashlight parts among his belongings.

Over the summer, police said laser pointers used by anti-government protesters were dangerous and deemed them offensive weapons. In November, a 16-year-old boy became the first person to be convicted of possessing a laser pointer.

Lee said another district councillor, barrister Lawrence Lau Wai-chung, was providing legal assistance to Ho.

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