HONG KONG -- Hong Kong's leader said Saturday that the murder suspect whose case inadvertently helped ignite the city's protest movement wants to surrender to authorities in Taiwan.
Carrie Lam told reporters that Hong Kong's government would "actively follow up on" a letter she received from Chan Tong-kai requesting help to give himself up.
Chan is wanted by Taiwan authorities who accuse him of killing his girlfriend during a trip to the self-ruled island last year. He was not sent back to Taiwan to face charges because the semi-autonomous Chinese territory has no extradition agreement with the island.
He was, however, jailed in Hong Kong on money laundering charges and is due to be released this week.
Lam told local broadcaster RTHK that she felt "relief" at Chan's decision to surrender to Taiwanese authorities.
Taiwan's Ministry of Justice had urged Hong Kong on Thursday to keep Chan in prison and investigate him for the killing, but Lam and other Hong Kong officials ruled that out.
Lam has cited Chan's case as one of the main reasons that she wanted to close the loophole with proposed extradition amendments.
But the proposals sparked protests over fears they would put Hong Kong residents at risk of being sent into mainland China's Communist Party-controlled judicial system.Gallery: Hong Kong rally
The protests mushroomed into the biggest political turmoil to rock the Asian financial center in decades. The demonstrators have been taking to the streets for five months and clashed frequently with police, as their demands have broadened to include full democracy and an independent inquiry into police tactics.
The latest protests included a Saturday night prayer rally to call for international help for the cause. An unauthorized protest march was planned for today. Organizers vowed to hold the event even though it failed to win approval from police, who cited risks to public order.
Demonstrators also want to use today's rally to raise a more recent demand for the government to scrap a ban installed this month on face masks at public gatherings.
Organizers said demonstrators would defy the police because Hong Kong's constitution guarantees the right to protest.
"We don't think that because police haven't given their approval we shouldn't demonstrate," Figo Chan, vice-convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, told reporters. "Even though they have rejected our appeal, there will surely be many residents taking to the streets."
Police said they arrested a 22-year-old man Saturday after a teenager was stabbed and wounded. The 19-year-old man was attacked while he was handing out leaflets near a wall decorated with pro-democracy messages, media reports said.
Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers, including Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, wrote to tech company Apple and video game studio Activision Blizzard to condemn what they called protest-related censorship on behalf of China.
The group urged Apple to reverse its decision to remove from its app store the crowdsourced mapping app HKMaplive. Hong Kong residents used it to report police locations so that demonstrators could avoid them.
They also wrote separately to Activision to reconsider its decision to suspend a Hong Kong gamer after he voiced support for the protesters during an interview.
"Cases like these raise real concerns about whether Apple and other large U.S. entities will bow to growing Chinese demands rather than lose access to more than a billion Chinese consumers," said the letter sent Friday and cosigned by Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Mike Gallagher, both Republicans, and Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Tom Malinowski, both Democrats.
Information for this article was contributed by staff members of The Associated Press.
A Section on 10/20/2019
Print Headline: Suspect at start of protests to surrender