Former lawmaker and United Democrats party founder Martin Lee (C) leaves the Central District police station in Hong Kong on Saturday. Photo: Isaac Lawrence/AFP via Getty Images
15 prominent Hong Kong activists were arrested Saturday on charges of holding illegal assemblies in August and October related to the massive pro-democracy protests that swept the semi-autonomous Chinese territory last year, per AFP. Media tycoon Jimmy Lai and former lawmaker Martin Lee, 81, were among those arrested.
The big picture: Hours before the arrests, a Chinese government office in the Asian financial hub "declared it is not bound by Hong Kong's constitutional restrictions that bar Chinese government from interfering in local affairs," The Guardian notes. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that the arrests were "deeply concerning," noting "politicized law enforcement is inconsistent with universal values of freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly."