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Top Hong Kong national security officer under investigation

Hong Kong police said Wednesday that they are investigating a top national security officer after a police raid found him at an unlicensed massage business.

The person under investigation is Frederic Choi, head of the police National Security Department that was set up last year after Beijing decided to impose a new set of laws on Hong Kong against subversion, secession, collusion and terrorism.

Commissioner of Police Chris Tang said Choi has been put on leave during the investigation. Tang provided few details about the raid.

Chris Tang, commissioner of the Hong Kong Police Force, arrives for a press conference in Hong Kong, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. A top Hong Kong national security officer was reportedly caught up in a raid on an unlicensed massage business, and will face a police force investigation into the alleged misconduct. Hong Kong’s Director of National Security Frederic Choi has since been put on leave after the incident, according to Tang. (AP PhotoKin Cheung)

“I think the work of the National Security Department will not be affected by the investigation of an allegation against an individual officer, because we are a team and work as a team,” Tang said at a news conference.

While operating an unlicensed massage business is an offence that could result in up to six months jail and a 50,000 Hong Kong dollar fine, patronizing such establishments is not illegal.

The National Security Department was set up following the implementation of the new security law last year, which came as Beijing aimed to silence dissent in the semiautonomous territory following months of anti-government protests.

Chris Tang, commissioner of the Hong Kong Police Force, speaks to the media during a press conference in Hong Kong, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. A top Hong Kong national security officer was reportedly caught up in a raid on an unlicensed massage business, and will face a police force investigation into the alleged misconduct. Hong Kong’s Director of National Security Frederic Choi has since been put on leave after the incident, according to Tang. (AP PhotoKin Cheung)

Choi, who is also a senior assistant commissioner, joined the city’s police force in 1995. In February, he received an award for his contributions to national security from the city’s leader Carrie Lam.

He was sanctioned by the U.S. earlier this year together with six other national security officers for their role in undermining the autonomy of Hong Kong, a former British colony that was handed over to Beijing in 1997.

Chris Tang, commissioner of the Hong Kong Police Force, speaks to the media during a press conference in Hong Kong, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. A top Hong Kong national security officer was reportedly caught up in a raid on an unlicensed massage business, and will face a police force investigation into the alleged misconduct. Hong Kong’s Director of National Security Frederic Choi has since been put on leave after the incident, according to Tang. (AP PhotoKin Cheung)

Chris Tang, commissioner of the Hong Kong Police Force, speaks to the media during a press conference in Hong Kong, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. A top Hong Kong national security officer was reportedly caught up in a raid on an unlicensed massage business, and will face a police force investigation into the alleged misconduct. Hong Kong’s Director of National Security Frederic Choi has since been put on leave after the incident, according to Tang. (AP PhotoKin Cheung)

In this photo released by Hong Kong Government Information Services, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, left, presents the award to Hong Kong's Director of National Security Frederic Choi at Government House in recognition of his significant contributions to safeguarding national security in Hong Kong on Feb. 10, 2021. The top Hong Kong national security officer was reportedly caught up in a raid on an unlicensed massage business, and will face a police force investigation into the alleged misconduct. Choi has since been put on leave after the incident, according to Hong Kong police chief Chris Tang. (Hong Kong Government Information Services via AP)

In this photo released by Hong Kong Government Information Services, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, left, presents the award to Hong Kong's Director of National Security Frederic Choi at Government House in recognition of his significant contributions to safeguarding national security in Hong Kong on Feb. 10, 2021. The top Hong Kong national security officer was reportedly caught up in a raid on an unlicensed massage business, and will face a police force investigation into the alleged misconduct. Choi has since been put on leave after the incident, according to Hong Kong police chief Chris Tang. (Hong Kong Government Information Services via AP)

Chris Tang, commissioner of the Hong Kong Police Force, speaks during a press conference in Hong Kong, Wednesday, May 12, 2021. A top Hong Kong national security officer was reportedly caught up in a raid on an unlicensed massage business, and will face a police force investigation into the alleged misconduct. Hong Kong’s Director of National Security Frederic Choi has since been put on leave after the incident, according to Tang. (AP PhotoKin Cheung)