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LC Urgent Q4: Dissemination of messages inciting others to commit crime via Internet constitutes an offence

     Following is an urgent question by the Hon Starry Lee under Rule 24(4) of the Rules of Procedure and a reply by the Acting Secretary for Security, Mr John Lee, in the Legislative Council yesterday (June 18):


     Last Friday, when the Finance Committee (FC) of this Council was scrutinising the funding application relating to the North East New Territories New Development Areas, a clash erupted outside the Legislative Council Complex (the Complex), which was the fiercest in recent years. Protesters stormed at various entrances of the Complex, resulting in damages of various facilities of the Complex as well as a number of people being injured and arrested. FC will continue its scrutiny of the aforesaid funding application this Friday. Some netizens who claimed to have participated in the said storming called on others, through Internet forums, to participate in besieging the Complex again. They even disseminated action guidelines teaching people openly how to besiege the Complex, how to break tempered glasses, how to use mills barriers and fire extinguishers as weapons, and how to deal with pepper spray attacks, etc. These netizens also displayed the structural plan of the various entrances of the Complex, explained how to break through the entrances and even said clearly that "there is no need to worry about the safety of those behind the glasses". In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether the Police have immediately assessed if such seditious comments on the Internet have increased the risks of disruption of public order outside the Complex this Friday; if the assessment outcome is in the affirmative, of the details and the Police's corresponding deployment plans; and

(2) whether the Police will take actions expeditiously to curb such acts on the Internet of teaching other people how to use weapons, encouraging the participation in the storming of the Complex, and instigating the deliberate infliction of bodily harm on other people; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     My reply to Hon Starry Lee's question is as follows:

     The Police are highly concerned about the online posts which give guides on storming the Legislative Council (LegCo) and have proactively launched an investigation.

     On another front, a report was received on June 17 about a message issued in the social media to call on the people to storm the LegCo. The case, classified as a "Request for Police Assistance", is being followed up by the Technology Crime Division under the Commercial Crime Bureau.

     Dissemination of false messages or messages inciting others to commit a crime via the Internet may, subject to actual circumstances, constitute an offence of access to computer with criminal or dishonest intent under Section 161 of the Crimes Ordinance (Cap 200), which will render the offender liable on conviction upon indictment to imprisonment for five years.

     Besides, according to Section 89 of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance (Cap 221), any person who aids, abets, counsels or procures the commission by another person of any offence shall be guilty of the like offence. Under common law, inciting others to commit any substantive offence is itself an offence.

     The Police would like to remind the public that most of the laws that apply to the real world are also applicable to the Internet world. Members of public should use the Internet in a lawful and responsible manner.

     The LegCo Commission, LegCo Secretariat and the Police have drawn experience from the violent storming that took place last Friday. The Police will conduct comprehensive assessments on the public order events in question or any aggressive acts and make appropriate deployment to respond to any incidents that may occur for maintaining public order and ensuring the safety of LegCo personnel and the public. In a bid to ensure public safety and public order, as well as to safeguard the safety of the public, the LegCo Secretariat is actively liaising with the Police on security issues for the coming Friday in an effort to work out an effective arrangement and various contingency measures, in particular targeting the possible aggressive acts of certain people who are determined to storm into or force their way into the LegCo Complex. I am making this appeal to the public once again that, in exercising the rights to express their aspirations, protesters must observe the laws of Hong Kong and conduct such activities in a peaceful manner. They should not engage in any act to the detriment of public safety and public order. The Police will not tolerate any violent acts; and will take decisive enforcement actions and effective measures against any acts in contravention of the law to restore public order.

Ends/Thursday, June 19, 2014
Issued at HKT 21:31


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