Hong Kong: Young activist pleads guilty to ‘separation’ and risks life imprisonment

Hong Kong | Hong Kong activist Tony Chung, 20, pleaded guilty to “dissociation” Wednesday in the fourth case tried under the National Security Act, which carries a life sentence.

He will be the youngest activist to be sentenced under this new legislation that Beijing imposed at the end of June on the semi-autonomous region. The next session is scheduled for November 23.

“I have nothing to be ashamed of,” Tony Chung told the court as he pleaded his case.

Judge Stanley Chan immediately warned Chung that he would not be allowed to speak about politics in the courtroom.

Tony Chung was the head of a now-dissolved student group, the Local Student Group, founded in 2016 that demanded Hong Kong independence.

According to the allegation, the group called on Hong Kong to “get rid of Chinese communist colonial rule” and “build the Republic of Hong Kong”, spreading its messages on social media, and calls for demonstrations and products bearing messages of “independence”.

Prosecutors said the group had appealed to the United States to pass a law imposing sanctions on Hong Kong and China.

Chung was also found guilty of money laundering on Wednesday, and in return, prosecutors agreed to drop the incitement charge as well as the second money laundering charge, which he claimed was not guilty.

Although authorities have previously said the security law is not retroactive, prosecutors have pointed to several crimes that allegedly occurred before the law came into effect.

The young man was arrested at the end of October by plainclothes police a few meters from the US Consulate and has since been remanded in custody.

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According to a group calling itself Friends of Hong Kong, the police arrested the young activist that day because he wanted to seek asylum at the US consulate in Hong Kong.

Last December, Mr. Chong was sentenced to four months in prison for contempt of the Chinese flag and illegal assembly.

A large number of pro-democracy activists have left the city seeking sanctuary abroad since Beijing intensified its crackdown on movements denouncing China’s takeover of the territory.

Under the controversial law, which leaves room for broad interpretation, activists who express their views can be charged with “sabotage” and “collusion with foreign forces.”

Four other men have so far been convicted in separate cases under the Security Act, more than 150 people have been arrested, and nearly half have been charged. Bail is often denied.

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