Beijing, Jul 27 (EFE).- The first person to be put on trial under Hong Kong’s controversial national security law was found guilty by the High Court of inciting secession and acts of terrorism on Tuesday.
Leon Tong Ying-kit was arrested on 1 July 2020, just hours after the Beijing-designed security law was enacted in the protest-rocked special status territory, according to local media.
Tong, 24, was accused of driving his motorcycle into a group of police officers as he waved a pro-independence flag with the message “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” during mass demonstrations in the latter half of 2019. The guilty charges could carry a life sentence.
Tong, who has been held in pretrial detention since his arrest and was refused bail, pleaded not guilty to both charges.
His defense team is due to launch a mitigation plea on Thursday, according to local broadcaster RTHK.
Tong was tried without a jury, a decision Hong Kong’s justice department said was to avoid security threats against its members.
Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific regional director Yamini Mishra said the ruling felt like “the beginning of the end for freedom of expression in Hong Kong.”
She added: “People should be free to use political slogans during protests, and Tong Ying-kit should not be punished for exercising his right to free speech.”EFE