Hong Kong’s crackdown on opinion polls has escalated, with media mogul Jimmy Lai charged with national security and Tony Chong convicted of defaming the Chinese flag.
Local media reported on Friday afternoon that Lai, 733, was charged under the Strict National Security Act (NSL) imposed by Beijing in June with foreign allied crimes and endangering national security. Lai, who was jailed on bail and remanded in separate cases last week, will appear in court on Saturday on NSL charges.
Loi, owner of the Hong Kong tabloid Apple Daily and founder of Next Digital Media, is one of Hong Kong’s most pro-democracy voices and some of the financial center’s business leaders willing to criticize Beijing. He has visited the United States frequently and called on Chinese authorities to take international action to identify him as a “traitor.”
It came amid a growing crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. Earlier this week, police arrested at least one activist, including a student involved in a peaceful campus protest, three of whom were charged with violating national security laws.
Directing and former pro-democracy members of his family, a church pastor and his wife and their church charities to submit accounts which directs the police protesters offered humanitarian assistance.
Last week, activists Joshua Wang, Agnes Chow and Evan Lam were jailed for seven to 13 months for their role in an unauthorized protest outside police headquarters last year.
Leakey was first arrested in August under the NSL, 10 people as part of a police sweep and an operation in the Apple Daily Newsroom. He has faced multiple more separate cases and was charged last week with two Next Digital executives as well as fraud. The trio was charged with violating land-lease conditions by abusing Next Digital’s office space in Tasung Kwan O. Laike was denied bail and was detained before the next court hearing in April next year.
Also on Friday, 19-year-old activist Tony Chung was found guilty of illegal assembly and desecration of the Chinese flag when he threw a flag on the ground during a shootout outside Hong Kong’s parliament last year. He faces up to three years in prison for convicting Flags and five years in prison for illegal assembly. He will be sentenced on December 29.
The presiding magistrate, Penny Wang, said Chung’s actions “did not defile the public flag”. “The defendant jumped back and threw the flag which allowed more people to see what he had done,” Wang said.
Chung denied the allegations, arguing that he did not realize it was a Chinese flag. Ching shouted at the supporters in court, “The Hong Kongers are hanging there.
Chung has faced multiple further charges for separatist activities under the NSL, which carries the maximum life sentence in prison.
Chung, a former convener of a student activism group, was the first politician to be arrested under the law when he and three other young men were arrested on charges of being an online lawyer for an independent Hong Kong.
Chung was arrested again in October under the NSL after trying to seek refuge at the US Consulate in Hong Kong. While waiting for the consulate to open, police stopped Chun at a nearby coffee shop.
While the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries have begun taking sanctions and other measures in response to the growing crackdown on dissent, Hong Kong and Beijing authorities appear to have simply stepped up their efforts.
Hong Kong leader Kerry Lam has been unexpected, praising the NSL for restoring law and order in the city and rejecting all suggestions that the crackdown has tarnished its reputation as China’s international business hub and beacon of independence.
Additional reports by AFP