Hong Kong jails 20-year-old activist under national security law

Tony Chung, 20, was charged with secession, under a broad national security lawand money laundering in October 2020 and was denied bail. Local media reported at the time that unidentified men detained him along with two other people at a coffee shop near the United States consulate and that he was believed to be preparing for an asylum application.

Chung had reached a plea deal, pleading guilty to the secession charge and a money laundering charge and pleaded not guilty to a sedition charge and another money laundering charge.

The declaration led to a 25% reduction in his sentence, to 40 months for secession and 18 months for money laundering. Only three months of the latter will be served separately, resulting in a total penalty of 43 months.

“He actively organized, planned and implemented activities to separate the country,” said District Court Judge Stanley Chan.

Prosecutor Ivan Cheung has said that the defendant acted as administrator of the Facebook pages of the US branch of Studentlocalism and an organization called the Initiative Independence Party.

Independence T-shirts, flags and books were also seized from his home, the prosecutor said. The money laundering charge was related to donations he received through PayPal.

Like other anti-government organizations, Studentlocalism disbanded before Beijing imposed the security law in June 2020, to punish everything it considers subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life imprisonment.

The vast majority of Hong Kong people do not support independence, but any mention of the idea is anathema to Beijing.

Since the enactment of the security law, Hong Kong has taken a quick authoritarian turn, with most democratic politicians now in jail or self-exile. Dozens of civil society organizations have withdrawn and some international rights groups have left the city.

Chinese and Hong Kong authorities deny that the security law tramples on individual rights, saying the legislation was necessary to restore stability after massive street protests in 2019.

The former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with the promise of a high degree of autonomy. Democracy activists and some Western governments say China broke that promise, a charge that Beijing vehemently denies.


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