Hong Kong police early Wednesday arrested at least 53 pro-democracy advocates over their roles in last year's unofficial vote to choose opposition candidates in city elections. Authorities said the vote was part of a plan to "overthrow" the government in the semi-autonomous, China-ruled former British colony. The arrests amounted to the biggest roundup of democracy advocates yet under a new national security law Beijing imposed to discourage dissent. Among the former lawmakers and activists arrested was an American citizen, lawyer John Clancey, detained during a raid on a law firm, Reuters reports.
Hong Kong Secretary for Security John Lee said the operation targeted people "suspected to be involved in the crime of overthrowing or interfering seriously to destroy the Hong Kong government’s legal execution of duties." Victoria Hui, a Notre Dame political science professor who studies Hong Kong, called the raids a "total sweep" of opposition leaders that suggest Beijing will treat running for office as subversion.