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Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong held after guilty plea in protest case


Prominent Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong was taken into custody on Monday after he pleaded guilty to inciting and organizing an unauthorized assembly for his part in a dramatic siege of police headquarters last year during the city's mass protests.

Wong entered a not-guilty plea to the charge of knowingly taking part in an unauthorized assembly, according to a statement, saying the prosecution had offered no evidence for the last charge. He's set to be sentenced on Dec. 2, RTHK reported, adding that he faces a maximum punishment of three years in jail.

In a Twitter message marked as being sent while he was in custody, Wong said his current predicament was less deserving of attention than the fate of a dozen Hong Kong activists who've been detained by mainland Chinese authorities after fleeing the city for Taiwan by boat. The former leader of Hong Kong's 2014 Umbrella movement protests was the subject of the Netflix documentary "Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower."

"I wish to pay tributes to our fellow activists who are about to face trials and prison, or to whom in distress for not being able to return home: We're not fearless, but you are the braver ones," he wrote. "We must fight on, raise enough awareness and put more pressure on China to set them free and allow them to return to Hong Kong."

Wong was taken into custody on Monday after pleading guilty alongside Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam, who were all members of the since-disbanded political party Demosisto, RTHK reported. In a Facebook post late Sunday, Wong said that all three planned to plead guilty to all charges related to the siege of the police headquarters in June 2019.

The U.S.-based Hong Kong Democracy Council condemned the detention of the trio as a violation of the right to protest guaranteed under the Basic Law, the city's mini constitution.

"Make no mistake, when they pled guilty in court today, it was not a judgment on them, but rather a judgment against a poisoned Hong Kong judiciary system no longer independent or capable of rendering justice," Samuel Chu, the group's managing director, said in a statement.

Wong has faced a slew of charges related to the many months of protests that ravaged the city before China enacted sweeping national security legislation this summer.

Published : November 24, 2020

By : Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Natalie Lung, Rebecca Choong Wilkins, Iain Marlow · WORLD, ASIA-PACIFIC