Hong Kong police have hacked into more than 3,700 mobile phones seized from protestors, according to local media reports.

The devices were seized during the first five months of anti-government protests prompted by the announcement of the June extradition bill. The bill would have allowed criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be sent to face trial in mainland China, and was considered a substantial erosion of the ‘one country, two systems’ policy.

Though the bill was scrapped in September, protesters have continued to take to the streets upping their demands to call for democracy and police accountability. Clashes between police and activists have become increasingly violent, with Chief Executive Carrie Lam facing intense criticism from Hong Kong for bowing to China.

Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu claimed that all phones were seized after police search warrants were issued, dismissing concerns that the intrusion amounted to a potential abuse of power.

Mr Lee told the Legislative Council on Wednesday that from June to November 2019, police processed 1,429 cases that involved mobile phones as evidence, as reported by the South China Morning Post.

“Among those cases, 3,721 mobile phones belonging to arrested persons or suspects were involved, and the relevant cases were all processed with search warrants issued by the court,” he said.

Mr Lee claimed that it was customary practice to seize phones, and not a special tactic used against those arrested for protesting.

“While carrying out their responsibilities, [law enforcement agencies] may exercise the search and seizure powers conferred by relevant legislation, and seize and examine various objects of the suspected offence, including mobile phones and other similar devices,” he said.