SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 24 May 2024, Friday |

Hong Kong activist pleads guilty to secession, money laundering charges

“I have nothing to be ashamed of,” Tony Chung, 20, a jailed Hong Kong activist told a district court, as he pleaded guilty to charges of secession and money laundering, inviting a warning from the judge against making any political statements.
He accepted guilt of secession, as well as one count of money laundering.
Hearing Chung’s statement, Judge Stanley Chan was prompted to warn him “not to make any political statement in court.”
Chung, a former student activist, led the now-disbanded pro-independence group Studentlocalism.
In a two-hour-long submission before the court, public prosecutors reading a 69-page charge sheet said Chung published “seditious messages on social media and held activities and protests last year with secessionist intent.”
The case was listed for the next hearing on Nov. 10 while the judge asked for background details of Chung, who has been in jail since October last year.
He was charged under the controversial national security law (NSL) imposed by Beijing in June 2021 after year-long violent protests against a now-binned extradition bill that would have allowed convicts to be shifted to mainland China from the semi-autonomous region.
After the protests in 2019, Beijing last year imposed the NSL in Hong Kong, which was handed back by Britain to China in 1997 under the principle of “one country, two systems.”
Chung is the third activist to be convicted under the security law and also stands accused of using the online payment platform Paypal “to collect funds from his supporters to sponsor illegal acts.”
He also faces the accusation of publishing allegedly problematic social media content even after the NSL was enacted last year.
Chung set up a Facebook page of his group in the US which, prosecutors said “furthered the idea of Hong Kong independence.”
The other two convicted under the NSL include Tong Ying-kit, who was jailed for nine years earlier this year in July for inciting secession and terrorism, while Ma Chun-man was convicted of inciting secession last month.
His sentencing is set for Nov. 11.