First person convicted under Hong Kong's national security law is jailed for ...

First person convicted under Hong Kong's national security law is jailed for ...
First person convicted under Hong Kong's national security law is jailed for ...

The first person to be convicted under Hong Kong's national security law was jailed for nine years on Friday. 

Tong Ying-kit, 24, was convicted on Tuesday for driving a motorbike into a group of police officers while holding a flag bearing a protest slogan on July 1, 2020. 

The apparent stunt came a day after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on Hong Kong following months of anti-government protests in 2019.  

Ying-kit pleaded not guilty to charges of inciting secession, terrorism and an alternative charge of dangerous driving.    

The trial was a watershed moment that laid down a new marker in the city's changing legal landscape and confirmed that certain outlawed political slogans now carry lengthy jail terms.

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The flag Ying-kit flew read 'Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times', a ubiquitous chant during the huge and often violent pro-democracy protests two years ago.

Tong Ying-kit, 24, the first person to be convicted under Hong Kong 's national security law, was jailed for nine years on Friday

Tong Ying-kit, 24, the first person to be convicted under Hong Kong 's national security law, was jailed for nine years on Friday

Ying-kit convicted for driving a motorbike into a group of police officers while waving a flag bearing a protest slogan 'Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times', on July 1, 2020 (pictured)

Ying-kit convicted for driving a motorbike into a group of police officers while waving a flag bearing a protest slogan 'Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times', on July 1, 2020 (pictured)

The judges ruled that Ying-kit driving his bike into police met the bar for terrorism while the flag he flew was capable of 'inciting secession'.

They sentenced him to a total of nine years, saying his offences were of a 'serious nature' but were 'not the worst case of its kind'.

Tong's legal team told AFP they planned to appeal.

One of the lawyers, Lawrence Lau, read out a statement from Tong.

'Time travels fast,' it said. 'I thank you for all your support and concern.'   

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The trial has profound implications for future national security cases, which can carry up to life in jail.

More than 60 people have been charged under the law, including some of the city's best-known democracy activists such as Jimmy Lai, owner of the now-shuttered Apple Daily newspaper.

Most are now in jail awaiting trial. 

A prison van carrying activist Tong Ying-kit leaves the High Court in Hong Kong on Friday after the 24-year-old was sentenced to nine years in prison

A prison van carrying activist Tong Ying-kit leaves the High Court in Hong Kong on Friday after the 24-year-old was sentenced to nine years in prison

Police gathered outside the High Court on Friday ahead of activist Tong Ying-kit's sentencing after he was convicted under Hong Kong's national security law on Tuesday

Police gathered outside the High Court on Friday ahead of activist Tong Ying-kit's sentencing after he was convicted under Hong Kong's national security law on Tuesday

His lawyers had argued it was impossible to prove he was inciting secession by merely using the slogan. 

The defence added there was no evidence Ying-kit committed the act deliberately, that he avoided crashing into officers and that his actions couldn't be considered terrorism since there was no serious violence or harm to society. 

Ying-kit's sentencing came after a frenetic few days of activity by police and the courts that illustrates the breadth of that campaign.

Hours before Tong's jailing, Chow Hang-tung, a barrister and democracy activist, appeared in court to plead not guilty to a charge of encouraging Hong Kongers to mark the anniversary of Beijing's deadly Tiananmen Square crackdown.

'Mourning is not a crime. I plead not guilty,' she told the court.

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