First person tried under Hong Kong’s national security law has been found guilty of terrorism

The first person to be tried under Hong Kong’s national security law has been found guilty of terrorism.

Activist Tong Ying-kit, 24, faces life imprisonment after being convicted of waving a flag with a protest slogan.

On July 1, 2020, he ran a motorcycle into a group of police officers while holding the flag that read ‘Free Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Time’.

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

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

Activist Tong Ying-kit (pictured arriving in court on July 6, 2020), the first person to be tried under Hong Kong’s national security law, has been found guilty of terrorism

Activist Tong Ying-kit, 24, faces life in prison after he was convicted on July 1, 2020 for riding a motorcycle into a group of police officers while waving a flag bearing the protest slogan

Activist Tong Ying-kit, 24, faces life in prison after he was convicted on July 1, 2020 for riding a motorcycle into a group of police officers while waving a flag bearing the protest slogan “Free Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times.”

Ying-kit (pictured, the prison van carrying Ying-kit arrives in court on July 27) pleaded not guilty to charges of incitement to secession, terrorism and an alternate charge of dangerous driving

Ying-kit (pictured, the prison van carrying Ying-kit arrives in court on July 27) pleaded not guilty to charges of incitement to secession, terrorism and an alternate charge of dangerous driving

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

The defense added that there was no evidence that Ying-kit had committed the act intentionally, that he avoided bumping into officers and that his actions could not be considered terrorism as there was no serious violence or damage to the civilians. society.

They are expected to ask for leniency at the sentencing on Thursday.

The verdict was closely monitored for clues as to how similar cases will be handled in the future, as more than 100 people have been arrested under the security law.

The trial, which ended on July 20, was held without a jury in the Hong Kong Supreme Court and chaired by a judge selected by Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

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

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

The trial, which ended on July 20, was closely watched for clues as to how similar cases will be handled in the future as more than 100 people have been arrested under security law.

The trial, which ended on July 20, was closely watched for clues as to how similar cases will be handled in the future as more than 100 people have been arrested under security law.

Trials may be held without jurors under Hong Kong’s common law system in cases involving state secrets or foreign troops, or for the personal safety of the jury.

While Hong Kong has its own Legislative Council, Beijing’s ceremonial legislature imposed the national security law on the semi-autonomous city after finding that the body could not pass the legislation itself due to political opposition.

It followed the increasingly violent protests of 2019 against China’s growing influence over the city’s affairs, despite pledges to let the city maintain its own system for 50 years after the handover of British rule in 1997.

The Chinese legislature has mandated changes to the composition of the city’s Legislative Council to ensure an overwhelmingly pro-Beijing majority, requiring only those it designates as “patriots” to hold office.

National security law was imposed by Chinese lawmakers after increasingly violent protests against China's growing influence in Hong Kong

National security law was imposed by Chinese lawmakers after increasingly violent protests against China’s growing influence in Hong Kong

The trial, which ended on July 20, was held without a jury in the Hong Kong Supreme Court and chaired by a judge selected by Chief Executive Carrie Lam (pictured)

The trial, which ended on July 20, was held without a jury in the Hong Kong Supreme Court and chaired by a judge selected by Chief Executive Carrie Lam (pictured)

Authorities have banned the protest slogan “Free Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Time,” declaring it to have a secessionist connotation.

Library books and school curricula have also been examined for alleged segregation messages.

Hong Kong’s last remaining pro-democracy newspaper, Apple Daily, was forced into bankruptcy last month and a court refused bail for four editors and journalists detained on charges of endangering national security as part of the expanding action.

Beijing has dismissed criticism, saying it is only restoring order in the city and instituting the same type of national security protection as in other countries.

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