Hong Kong activist Wong gets bail after being charged for 2019 protests

Hong Kong activist Wong gets bail after being charged for 2019 protests

September 30, 2020

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong was granted bail on Wednesday after being formally charged in court in connection with participating in an unauthorised assembly in October 2019 and violating a city anti-mask law.

The court decision comes as Wong and other activists face prosecution on suspicion of several offences related to last pro-democracy protests last year, which prompted Beijing to impose a sweeping national security law in the Asian financial hub on June 30.

Wong, 23, who was arrested on Sept. 24, was defiant.

“We just want to send a clear message to the world, even if they arrest us, prosecute us and even lock us up in prison, there’s no reason for us to give up,” he said outside the court.

His case was adjourned until Dec. 18.

Just 17 years old when he became the face of student-led Umbrella Movement democracy protests in 2014, Wong was not a leading figure of the often violent unrest that shook the semi-autonomous former British colony last year.

He had been a frequent visitor to Washington where he appealed to the U.S. Congress to support Hong Kong’s democracy movement and counter Beijing’s tightening grip.

His U.S. visits angered Beijing, which says he is a “black hand” of foreign forces.

The new security law punishes anything China considers subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, with up to life in prison.

Authorities introduced a law against masks last year in a bid to help police identify protesters they suspected of committing crimes.

The Hong Kong government has since then made masks mandatory in most circumstances because of the novel coronavirus.

(Reporting by Aleksander Solum and Jessie Pang; Writing by Farah Master)