A teenage Hong Kong democracy activist was charged yesterday with secession, the first public political figure to be prosecuted under a new National Security Law that Beijing imposed on the territory.
Tony Chung (鍾翰林), 19, appeared in court two days after he was arrested by plainclothes police in a Hong Kong coffee shop opposite the US consulate, charged with secession, money laundering and conspiring to publish seditious content.
He was remanded into custody until his next court hearing on Jan. 7 and faces 10 years to life in prison if convicted under the new legislation.
Chung is a former member of Studentlocalism, a small group that advocates Hong Kong’s independence from China.
The group said it disbanded its Hong Kong network shortly before Beijing blanketed the territory in its new security law in late June, but kept its international chapters going.
Chung and three other members of Studentlocalism were first arrested by a newly created national security police unit in July on suspicion of inciting secession via social media posts.
Amnesty International yesterday said the charges showed that authorities were wielding the law to criminalize peaceful political expression.
“The intensifying attack on human rights in Hong Kong has been ramped up another notch with this politically motivated arrest in which a peaceful student activist has been charged and detained solely because the authorities disagree with his views,” said Joshua Rosenzweig, head of Amnesty’s China team.
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