Hong Kong police have brought 47 pro-democracy activists to court today under Beijing's national security law, charged with conspiracy to commit subversion.
The cases represent the largest mass charge against the semi-autonomous Chinese territory´s opposition camp since the law came into effect last June.
More than 100 police officers were deployed outside West Kowloon court in response to the largest rally seen this year.
Hong Kong Police brought 47 pro-democracy activists to West Kowloon court today charged with conspiracy to commit subversion under China's new national security law. Pictured: A police van carrying some of the activists arrives at the courthouse this morning
Pro-democracy politician Lam Cheuk-ting arrives in a police van at West Kowloon court this morning. The 47 cases represent the largest mass charge against the semi-autonomous Chinese territory´s opposition camp since the law came into effect last June
Former law professor Benny Tai (pictured), a key figure in Hong Kong's 2014 Occupy Central protests and also was one of the main organizers of the primaries, who was arrested under Hong Kong's national security law, arrives at a court in a police van in Hong Kong this morning
Around 1,000 supporters gathered outside the courthouse, displaying slogans in favour of the 2019 pro-democracy protests advocating greater local autonomy.
China has cracked down hard on such calls, demanding changes to the legal and educational systems to inculcate loyalty to the ruling Communist Party.
The former lawmakers and democracy advocates had been previously arrested in a sweeping police operation in January but were released, only to be detained again on Sunday.
Those arrested allegedly violated the national security law for participating in unofficial election primaries for Hong Kong´s legislature last year.
Another activist to be brought before the court in West Kowloon this morning was Mike Lam King-nam
More than 100 police officers (pictured) were deployed outside West Kowloon court in response to the largest rally seen this year
A number of foreign diplomats queued outside the courthouse this morning, including Charles Whiteley, Deputy Head of Office, EU Office, (left) Johannes Harms, Consul of Germany, (second-left), Joakim Ladeborn, Deputy Consul General of Sweden (second right) and Rogier Hekking, Deputy Consul General of Netherlands (right)
The pro-democracy camp had held the primaries to determine the best candidates to field to win a majority in the legislature and had plans to vote down major bills that would eventually force Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to resign.
In January, 55 activists and former lawmakers were arrested for their roles in the primaries.
Authorities said that the activists´ participation was part of a plan to paralyze the city's legislature and subvert state power.
The security law criminalizes acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers to intervene in Hong Kong´s affairs. Serious offenders could face a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
Nearly 100 people have been arrested since the law was implemented.
Around 1,000 gathered outside the courthouse today, with some holding up gestures in protest at the arrests of the 47 activists appearing in court
The queue of supporters attempting to gain entry to West Kowloon court this morning (pictured) stretched back several hundred metres, almost circling the entire block
A man holds a poster featuring famous pro-democracy activists outside West Kowloon court in Hong Kong this morning as 47 pro-democracy activists appear charged with conspiracy to commit subversion