No jury as Hong Kong's first 'national security' trial gets under way

Andrew Cummings
June 23, 2021

Tong Ying-kit was arrested on 1 July, 2020, a day after the national security law took effect, for allegedly inciting secession by driving into the crowd of officers while bearing a flag with the slogan "Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times".

Tong Ying-kit, 24, was arrested under the new law the day after it came into effect when he allegedly drove his motorbike into a group of police officers during protests on July 1 previous year.

Police, who typically do not disclose the names of those arrested, said one of the people they had detained was a 55-year-old man.

It said the decision was "based on employee safety and manpower considerations".

It marked the first time the national security law - which criminalises anything Beijing considers subversive - has been used against the press, chilling a city that was once considered a bastion of media freedom.

The newspaper is accused of conspiring with foreign countries to slap sanctions on China and Hong Kong over the territory's diminished autonomy - charges largely viewed as a pretext by authorities to muzzle dissent.

He is already in jail after being convicted of unlawful-assembly charges for participating in protests.

The closure of Apple Daily is "a big blow to the freedom of the press and freedom of speech in Hong Kong", saidRonson Chan, chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Assn.

Under the new law, the burden is now placed on the defendant to prove they will not break the law if released on bail.

A man accused of driving a motorcycle into police officers while carrying a Hong Kong protest flag has become the first person to stand trial under the national security law implemented a year ago as China's central government tightened control over the city.

Earlier this year, officials gutted the city's public broadcaster, Radio Television Hong Kong, by letting go reporters, axing shows considered critical of the government and appointing a new editor-in-chief with no media experience.

But the national security law, which was penned in Beijing and imposed on Hong Kong a year ago after huge and often violent democracy protests, allows for cases to be tried by three specially selected judges.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that criticism of last week's raid and arrests at Apple Daily amounted to attempts to "beautify" acts that endangered national security. Secretary for Security will handle in accordance with the law any application related to the frozen property.

It said endangering national security is a very serious crime.

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