Hong Kong Teen Protest Leader Guilty of Unlawful Assembly

Updated on

Hong Kong (AP) -- Three Hong Kong student leaders were convicted Thursday of leading or encouraging the massive pro-democracy street protests that unsettled the southern Chinese city two years ago.

Joshua Wong tweeted that he "was found guilty of the charge of participating unlawful assembly by court of Hong Kong."

The magistrate convicted Nathan Law of the same charge, while finding Alex Chow guilty of inciting others to join an illegal assembly, according to local media reports.

Law said they would seek legal advice on whether to file an appeal. Wong said they are due for sentencing on Aug. 15. They each could face up to two years in prison for leading the protests, which marked the former British colony's most tumultuous period in decades.

"We might need to go into prison. However, no matter what is the penalty or the price that we need to pay, we will still continue to fight against suppression from the government," Wong said after the verdict. "Facing the largest communist regime in the world, it's a long-term battle for us to fight for democracy."

The three were charged with storming into a courtyard dubbed Civic Square beside the Hong Kong government complex on Sept. 26, 2014, to protest Beijing's decision to restrict elections for the semiautonomous region's top leader.

They and dozens of other young activists climbed a tall fence or rushed past a barricade surrounding the square, where the government restricted access months before.

Crowds of demonstrators turned out to demand the detained activists be released by police, who responded two days later with volleys of tear gas. The move drove even more protesters to take to the streets, where they remained for 79 days to press their demands for greater democracy in what became known as the Umbrella Movement.

Last month Wong was acquitted of obstruction charges stemming from a separate anti-China protest earlier in 2014. He's also involved in a contempt case still before the courts.

Amnesty International criticized Hong Kong's Public Order Ordinance, on which the prosecution based its case, noting it has been criticized for not meeting international human rights law and standards on the right of peaceful assembly.

"The prosecution of student leaders on vague charges smacks of political payback by the authorities," said Mabel Au, the group's Hong Kong director.

___

This story has been corrected to show that the maximum sentence is two years.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE