Police in Hong Kong have arrested seven people for “assisting” a man suspected of stabbing a police officer during a protest against China’s new national security law for the city.
Authorities arrested five men and two women, aged between 24 and 71, on suspicion of offences including helping the suspect buy an air ticket and arrange transportation to the airport, police said at a press briefing on Friday.
“We do not rule out the possibility that more people will be arrested afterwards,” said Yau Kin-hung, a senior police officer.
The stabbing took place during a July 1 protest, hours after the law – which bans secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces – came into effect.
Hong Kong police posted images on Twitter of the officer with a bleeding arm saying he was stabbed by “rioters holding sharp objects”.
The next day, a 24-year-old man was arrested at the airport, minutes before his flight took off, according to media reports.
The South China Morning Post identified the suspect as Wong Kwan-wa. He is facing charges of “wounding with intent”, according to the newspaper, an offence that carries a sentence of up to life in prison.
The SCMP said Wong’s girlfriend was among the seven arrested.
Police said the group could face up to 10 years in prison for “assisting” the suspect.
Police had arrested more than 300 people since the protests on July 1, when they used water cannon and tear gas against demonstrators who defied the sweeping security legislation introduced by China to snuff out dissent in the former British colony.
China’s parliament adopted the security law in response to protests last year triggered by fears Beijing was stifling the city’s freedoms and threatening its judicial independence, guaranteed by a “one country, two systems” formula agreed when it was returned to China.
Beijing has denied interfering and officials say the law is vital to plug holes in national security defences exposed by the protests.