Hong Kong protester convicted in first trial under new security law

Hong Kong protester convicted in first trial under new security law
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A Hong Kong protester on Tuesday was convicted in the first trial under the city’s new national security law.

Tong Ying-kit was charged by judges Esther Toh, Anthea Pang and Wilson Chan with inciting secession and terrorism after driving into three riot policemen on his motorcycle while carrying a flag that said "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times,” Reuters reported.

The 24-year-old pleaded not guilty, with his lawyers arguing the flag does not call for secession and he did not mean to run into the officers.

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The trial had no jury and Tong was denied bail, a decision that was uncommon before the new security law. 

Judge Esther Toh said Tong “committed terrorist activities causing or intended to cause grave harm to the society” during the reading of the verdict, The Associated Press reported

"The defendant’s failure to stop at all the police checklines, eventually crashing into the police, was a deliberate challenge mounted against the police, a symbol of Hong Kong’s law and order," the full judgment stated.

Tong’s sentencing hearing is set for Thursday, where it will be decided if he gets the maximum sentence for the crime, which is life in prison. 

Tong's lawyer Clive Grossman told Reuters they have not decided if they will appeal the verdict.

Amnesty International has already condemned the decision, saying it is “the beginning of the end for freedom of expression in Hong Kong.”

“People should be free to use political slogans during protests, and Tong Ying-kit should not be punished for exercising his right to free speech,” Asia-Pacific Regional Director Yamini Mishra told the AP. “It is particularly clear that he should never have been charged with a ‘national security’ offense carrying a possible life sentence.”