Hong Kong, Jan 19 (EFE).- Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Edward Leung, a leader of the city’s short-lived independence movement, was released from prison Wednesday morning after serving four years for rioting and assaulting police in a 2016 riot.
The 30 year old’s release, expected to occur at a maximum-security prison on the outlying island of Lantau at about 9 am local time (1 am GMT) before the press and supporters, instead happened at 3am, when he went into a mini-van parked outside the penitentiary.
At about 5 am, a post briefly appeared on Leung’s Facebook page in which he confirmed his release. He also said he would quit the public limelight, stop using social media and forego media interviews, in accordance with a supervision order.
The order is one of the conditions for Leung’s premature release – his jail term has been reduced from six to four years due to good conduct. The Facebook account was deleted shortly after the post.
Although Leung was behind bars throughout an anti-government protest movement in 2019 that took place in Hong Kong for months, he remained a charismatic figure for protesters who took to the streets that year, frequently chanting the “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” slogan Leung coined.
Leung created the popular slogan in 2016 when he contested in a local election. It is now banned in Hong Kong after Beijing imposed on the city a national security law targeting crimes including secession and subversion.
A year after the peaceful 2014 “Umbrella” pro-democracy movement, Leung rose to prominence as a university student and became a spokesman of Hong Kong Indigenous, a pro-independence localist group that advocated resistance to growing political and economic influence of mainland China in Hong Kong. The group helped fuel the failed independence movement in Hong Kong.
In 2016, Leung was among activists that rioted in Mong Kok, triggered by authorities’ crackdown on unlicensed street hawkers during the traditional Chinese New Year holiday. In 2018, he was sentenced to six years in jail. Two of his fellow group members Ray Wong and Alan Li, also involved in the riot, fled to Germany in 2018 and became Hong Kong’s first political refugees living in exile. EFE