11 of 47 Hong Kong pro-democracy activists granted bail in subversion case

Hong Kong, Mar 15 (efe-epa).- Eleven of the 47 pro-democracy dissidents in Hong Kong who have been charged with subversion under a sweeping security law were released on bail on Monday.

The other 36 defendants will remain in jail pending trial, scheduled for late May.

The city’s High Court approved bail for three of the defendants, district councilors Sze Tak-loy, Kalvin Ho and Shun Lee, that was granted by a lower court two weeks ago. They were released later on Monday.

The trio was the last batch of the 15 defendants whose bail, granted by magistrate Victor So of West Kowloon Magistrate’s Court on March 4, had to be approved by the High Court because the prosecutors had appealed the magistrate’s decision as soon as it was announced.

On March 5, the prosecutors, who represented the Hong Kong government, made a surprise U-turn and dropped their bail challenge against four of the 15 defendants. That group of four was set free that evening.

The conditions for the 11 remaining defendants who were granted temporary release include not engaging in any speeches or acts that may endanger state security, not running in any elections and handing over their travel documents.

The court case surrounding the 47 politicians and activists represents the biggest single crackdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement since Beijing enacted the so-called National Security Law that has dealt a hammer blow to the pro-democracy camp.

All 47 are charged with one count of conspiring to commit subversion in relation to their participation in an unofficial primary election organized by the pro-democracy camp in July 2020. They were arrested en masse in January. Excluding the 11 that have been set free, they have all been remanded in custody since at least February 28. One of the most prominent young activists, Joshua Wong, has been under detention since December on separate charges.

Those remanded in custody without bail granted include some of the most recognizable pro-democracy faces in Hong Kong politics, including Wong, renowned law scholar Benny Tai and veteran pro-democracy activist “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung.

The defendants could face life in prison if they are convicted of violating the security law, which Beijing imposed on Hong Kong following months of anti-government and anti-Beijing protests in 2019.

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