OSINT HK started as a hashtag on Twitter. The PLA Garrison in Hong Kong released a short but very provocative video clip. It showed scenes of soldiers rappelling out helicopters, raiding a mock Hong Kong neighborhood with live ammunition, playing riot police, firing sniper rifles and anti-tank missiles, and even a surface-to-air missile launch. The first reaction from most Hong Kong journalists was that it didn’t look like Hong Kong and was probably mostly filmed during the known PLA and PAP training exercises across the border in Shenzhen. I thought they way at first too.
But then I noticed that the PLA Navy ships and helicopters shown in the clips all matched what’s deployed here. I started a hashtag, #OSINThk, asking to crowdsource geolocate the scenes in the clip. Within about 24 hours we had located everything but two clips. We ‘discovered’ a PLA firing range on the other side of Tuen Mun where they had been firing anti-tank missiles without anyone really noticing what they’d been up to. The hashtag was re-activated again when Nathan Ruser took an amateur hypothesis that Tuen Mun had been accidentally gassed by PLA training exercise at the same range and plugged all my data into a NOAA particulate dispersal model that showed tear gas would have landed exactly where it was reported to have ‘leaked’ on that day. 70-80 people were arrested in the local protests that followed HKPF’s denial that it wasn’t them.
OSINT HK moved from a hashtag to a private Telegram group to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Alex Chow. A report of that investigation was the first piece published on this website. We have been busy investigating confusing but well documented 2019 Hong Kong protests incidents. We have also tried to catalog the Hong Kong Police Force’s weapons and will have an expert report out shortly.
Our current model is a volunteer group that consists of volunteer amateur and professional OSINT analysts. We operate in encrypted private Telegram channels. We only recently migrated from Telegram to Twitter and this site is very new. We’re currently trying to mature our project by providing reports and analysis summarizing our findings to the wider public. We’re exploring donation and partnership models for things making videos and data visualizations of our findings.