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Rome Reports

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Cardinal Zen arrested by Hong Kong authorities, freed on bail


Hong Kong's national security police have arrested the 90-year-old bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen.

According to local media reports, he was released on bail hours after his arrest. 

Cardinal Zen, an outspoken critic of the Chinese Communist Party, was detained due to his position as a trustee of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, established to pay the legal fees of protesters arrested in the 2019 pro-democracy demonstrations.

The Cardinal's arrest with three other activists is part of a larger police probe into whether the fund colluded with foreign forces, thus violating the sweeping national security law imposed by Beijing in June 2020. 

In Rome, the Vatican said it was “concerned by the news” of the arrest and that it is “following the evolution of the situation with extreme attention.”

Western leaders have condemned the arrest as another sign of China's increasingly tightening grip over the semi-autonomous region. 

The EU's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, tweeted that the freedoms laid out in Hong Kong's founding documents to be respected, and the U.S. State Department called for the immediate release of those arrested. 

NED PRICE
Spokesman, U.S. State Department
In arresting these veteran activists, scholars, and religious leaders under the so-called National Security Law, Hong Kong authorities have again demonstrated that they will pursue all means necessary to stifle dissent and undercut protected rights and freedoms.

While the Cardinal is not currently behind bars, the sum of the charges brought against him, which include terrorism, could carry a life sentence. 

JM