KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 29 — Cantopop singer Denise Ho has been arrested for allegedly conspiring with five others to publish seditious materials in her role as a former director of an independent news provider.
The star was taken from her home in Hong Kong this morning, The Guardian reported quoting Ho’s Facebook page.
Ho’s arrest marks the first time a pop star of global fame has been detained for a political crime after Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong 18 months ago in response to months of pro-democracy protests in 2019.
Ho had long been an outspoken public figure.
Born in Hong Kong and raised in Canada, she is a hero to the region’s LGBT community, as one of the first local celebrities to come out almost a decade ago.
She was actively involved in the city’s pro-democracy movement, testifying at the US Capitol about reports of police brutality during the protests, as well as serving as a trustee for a now defunct humanitarian fund for arrested or injured protesters.
In her latest update, Ho said she was fine.
“I am feeling OK. Friends who are concerned about me, please don’t worry.”
In a creative industry where access to the lucrative mainland Chinese market has swayed many Cantonese artists to refrain from angering Chinese sensitivities, Ho emerged in 2014 as a voice of defiance when she joined the Umbrella Movement and demanded wider democracy with thousands of other Hongkongers.
“When I first saw the teargas fired into the peaceful crowds … I decided, regardless of all the so-called consequences, that I had to speak my mind,” she said in 2019.
The consequences for Ho’s career came long before today’s arrest.
In 2014, Chinese authorities banned her from performing on the mainland.
In the years that followed, brands and other celebrities shunned her, while some of her concerts in Hong Kong were cancelled.
Meanwhile, confirming the arrests, Variety reported that Police National Security Department had conducted a search against an online media company in Kwun Tong with a warrant issued under Schedule 1 of the Implementation Rules for Article 43 of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, authorising police to search and seize relevant journalistic materials.
“Over 200 uniformed and plainclothes police officers have been deployed during the operation,” said the Hong Kong government in a press statement.