Hong Kong police arrested nine people on Saturday suspected of assisting 12 protesters and activists who were arrested at sea as they attempted to flee to Taiwan in August.

The four men and five women arrested, aged 27 to 72, include a music teacher, a chef, and a former aide to a Legislative Councilor, Senior Superintendent of Police Ho Chun-tung said at a press briefing outside police headquarters in Wan Chai.

Some had previously been arrested during last year’s anti-extradition protests against a bill that would have allowed criminal suspects in Hong Kong to face trial in China.

Mostly friends of the 12, the nine people arrested are suspected of offering accommodation and financial

assistance, providing the boat on which they escaped, transporting them to the dock and making arrangements for their life in Taiwan.

Police seized 500,000 Hong Kong dollars in cash, computers, receipts for the boat worth several tens of thousands of dollars. Further arrests may be forthcoming, they said.

The 12 arrested protesters, aged 16 to 33, have been held for over 40 days in a Shenzhen detention centre

were they have been unable to communicate with their families and denied legal representation of their choosing.

On Saturday police again denied working with mainland authorities to execute the arrest, after it emerged
that aircraft belonging to the city’s government were recorded circling over the escapees before they were intercepted by China’s Coast Guard in mainland-administered waters.

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