Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong detained for illegal assembly

Cheryl Sanders
November 24, 2020

Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong has pleaded guilty to charges of organising and taking part in an unauthorised assembly near the police headquarters during last year's anti-government protests.

Alleged offenses against Wong, Chow and Lam regarding the June 2019 incident include organizing and taking part in an unauthorized assembly, according to the judiciary's website.

His long-time activist colleagues Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam, who also pleaded guilty for similar charges, were remanded in custody at the same trial.

When last year's much larger democracy protests kicked off, Wong was still in jail.

Beijing and local authorities have refused demands for free elections and have pursued democracy supporters with criminal cases and a sweeping new national security law with critics say has eroded Hong Kong's freedoms.

Their headquarters was besieged on multiple occasions with crowds hurling eggs and daubing its walls with graffiti. Lam pleaded guilty to incitement while Chow, 23, admitted inciting and joining the protest.

Wong also faces several charges involving other protests while Chow is accused of inciting secession - a charge under the new national security law - which could lead to extradition to mainland China for trial and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

The young activist spent five weeks in jail a year ago for contempt of court, before being released on June 16, when protests were already in full swing.

However the protests were deliberately leaderless, mostly organised by social media and encrypted chat forums.

More than 10,000 people were arrested and most of the Hong Kong's leading activists and opposition figures now face prosecution.

But the three in court on Monday are among the most high-profile activists in Hong Kong, and as the prison vans thought to be transporting them back to the detention centres pulled out onto the road, their supporters gathered, waved and chanted.

The demonstrations petered out at the start of the year thanks to fatigue, mass arrests and the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hong Kong activists, from left, Joshua Wong, Ivan Lam and Agnes Chow arrive at court on Monday.

The arrest came after continued months-long protests over the new security law imposed by China, which has been often criticised as a means to silence the pro-democracy voices.

Wong also faces charges of participating in an unauthorised assembly in October 2019 and on June 4, 2020 over a vigil commemorating the crackdown on protesters in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Earlier this year, Wong was disqualified along with 11 other pro-democracy politicians and activists from running in a since-postponed election for the city's legislature.

Authorities say they have returned much needed stability to the global trade hub, but the USA and other countries have imposed new sanctions on Chinese officials over the law, which they argue effectively removes Hong Kong's semi-autonomy.

Outside the court on Monday, the 24-year-old Wong, who is set to serve his fourth jail term in three years, vowed to continue his activism despite what he called "political suppression".

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