First person charged under Hong Kong’s security law convicted of terrorism and incitement to secession – Times of India

HONG KONG: The first person charged under Hong Kong’s national security law was convicted of terrorism and inciting secession on Tuesday in a landmark case with long-term implications for how the law is reshaping the common law traditions of the city.
An alternative charge of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm was not considered. the Supreme Court will hear mitigating arguments on Thursday and the sentence will be announced at a later date.
Old server Tong Ying-kit, 24, was charged with riding his motorbike in three riot police while carrying a flag with the protest slogan “Free Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Time”, which prosecutors called secessionist.
The widely anticipated move, much of which hinges on the slogan interpretation, places new limits on free speech in the former British colony. Pro-democracy activists and human rights groups also criticized the decision to refuse Pliers bail and a jury trial, which have been key elements of Hong Kong’s rule of law.
His trial was presided over by Judges Esther Toh, Anthea Pang and Wilson chan, chosen by city chief Carrie Lam to hear national security affairs.
Toh read a summary of the court’s decision, saying “such a display of the words was capable of inciting others to commit secession.”
She added that Tong was aware of the secessionist meaning of the slogan and intended to communicate that meaning to others. He also had a “political agenda” and his actions caused “serious damage to society”.
Tong had pleaded not guilty to all charges, which stemmed from the events of July 1, 2020, shortly after the law was passed.
Tong’s trial mainly focused on the meaning of the slogan, which was ubiquitous during mass protests in Hong Kong in 2019.
It has been chanted in the streets, posted online, scribbled on the walls, and printed on everything from brochures, books, stickers and T-shirts to coffee mugs.
Debates spanned a range of topics, including the history of ancient China, the American civil rights movement and Malcolm X, to determine whether the slogan was secessionist.
Two expert witnesses called by the defense to analyze the meaning of the slogan, drawing on sources including a review of some 25 million online publications, found “no substantial connection” between the slogan and the independence of Hong Kong.
The governments of Beijing and Hong Kong have repeatedly stated that the security law is necessary to bring stability after the often violent protests of 2019 and that the rights and freedoms promised to the city upon its return to Chinese rule. in 1997 remain intact.
The law, imposed by Beijing in June 2020, punishes what China considers to be subversion, secession, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces.
The government said all prosecutions were conducted independently and in accordance with the law, and the law enforcement actions had nothing to do with the political position, background or profession of those arrested.

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