A court sentenced Hong Kong student activist Tony Chung to three years and seven months in prison on Nov. 23 under the controversial national security law.
Chung, 20, became the youngest person to be convicted under the security law since China imposed the measure last year.
Chung pleaded guilty to one count of secession and one count of money laundering as part of a plea bargain. Under the terms, authorities dropped a second count of money laundering and one count of sedition.
Chung was also charged for possession of pro-independence materials and for social media posts advocating for independence, which is illegal under the security law.
However, some of the social media posts dated back before the security law took effect.
The charges are related to the activist group he founded called Studentlocalism, which advocated for Hong Kong’s independence from China.
District Criminal Court Judge Stanley Chan said that Chung “played an active role in promoting the independence of Hong Kong” as the leader of the group.
Chan further said that although Chung disbanded the group when the security law was established, he “continued his endeavor and the pursuit of his political ideas” by establishing a United States-based division.
Chung maintained that he has “nothing to be ashamed of.”
Johnny Patterson, the policy director of United Kingdom-based human rights organization Hong Kong Watch, said that Chung’s sentencing was “disproportionate, draconian, and sets a dangerous precedent for other young Hong Kongers whose only crime is using social media to protest the dismantling of Hong Kong’s freedoms.”
In October 2020, police officers in plainclothes arrested Chung near the U.S. consulate. According to his supporters, he was on his way to seek political asylum at the time.
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