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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."

Go deeper: Hong Kong protests assert the freedoms China seeks to constrain

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
1 min ago - Politics & Policy

America is anxious, angry and heavily armed

Data: FBI; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Firearms background checks in the U.S. hit a record high in 2020.

The big picture: This past year took our collective arsenal to new heights, with millions of Americans buying guns for the first time. That trend coincides with a moment of peak political and social tension.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

America on borrowed time

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Economic recovery will not be linear as the world continues to grapple with the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Why it matters: Despite being propped up by an extraordinary amount of fiscal stimulus and support from central banks, the state of the global economy remains fragile.

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.