Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong was taken into custody on Monday after pleading guilty to charges of organizing and inciting an unauthorized gathering near the police headquarters during anti-government protests last year.
Wong, who was just 17 when he became the face of the student-led Umbrella Movement democracy protests in 2014, faces a maximum sentence of three years in jail. The sentence will be delivered before December 2 at 2.30 pm (0630 GMT).
Before the security personnel took him away, Wong yelled, “Hold on everyone! Add oil ”in the courtroom, using a popular Cantonese encouraging expression often used during protests.
Later on Twitter, Wong said attention should be paid to the 12 Hong Kong people held in virtual incommunicado detention in China after being arrested at sea in August when they tried to flee by boat to Taiwan to escape charges related to last year’s protests in the city.
“I wish to pay tribute to our fellow activists who are about to face trial and prison, or … (are) distraught that they cannot return home: we are not fearless, but you are the bravest,” he said. .
“What we are doing now is explaining the value of freedom to the world,” Wong added. “I am still learning to overcome fear and I believe that you are with me on this journey.”
Wong did not plead guilty to a third count of knowingly participating in an unauthorized meeting after the prosecution did not offer evidence.
His longtime activist colleagues Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam, who also pleaded guilty to similar charges, were taken into custody at the same trial.
Dozens of supporters outside the court chanted pro-democracy slogans and “Free Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow, Ivan Lam!”
Wong was not a prominent figure in last year’s pro-democracy and anti-China protests, but his continued activism has drawn the ire of Beijing, which sees him as a “black hand” of foreign forces.
He dissolved his pro-democracy group Demosisto in June, just hours after the Chinese parliament passed a comprehensive national security law for Hong Kong, punishing anything that Beijing considers subversion, secessionism, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, up to life in prison.
Wong also faces charges of participating in an unauthorized assembly in October 2019 and June 4, 2020 during a vigil commemorating the 1989 crackdown on protesters in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
Earlier this year, Wong was disqualified along with 11 other pro-democracy politicians and activists from running in a since-postponed election for the city legislature.
Wong spent five weeks in jail last year for contempt of court, before being released on June 16 when the protests were already in full swing.
The repeated arrests of Wong and other activists have drawn criticism from Western governments who say China is not meeting its obligation to allow Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy, agreed to with the former British colonial master when the city returned to Chinese rule. in 1997.
China denies the accusation, saying that Hong Kong is an internal matter.