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Hong Kong sentences first person convicted under contested security law

By
Kyle Barnett
A billboard is seen in Hong Kong on July 15, 2020, not long after a new national security law was enacted that critics say is designed to quell pro-democracy movements. File Photo by Jerome Favre/EPA-EFE
A billboard is seen in Hong Kong on July 15, 2020, not long after a new national security law was enacted that critics say is designed to quell pro-democracy movements. File Photo by Jerome Favre/EPA-EFE

July 30 (UPI) -- A Hong Kong man was sentenced to nearly a decade in prison on Friday in the government's first prosecution under a controversial national security law imposed last year that coincided with mass pro-democracy protests.

The court sentenced Tong Ying-kit, 24, to nine years. He was convicted on charges of terrorism and inciting secession for driving his motorcycle into a group of police officers during a demonstration a year ago.

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He's the first person to be sentenced under the national security law. Defense attorney Clive Grossman said he will appeal Tong's sentence.

One of the court justices suggested that Tong would have received a lighter sentence if he'd admitted to his crimes.

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Hong Kong, a former British colony, is a semi-autonomous territory that's governed by China. Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping imposed the national security law following many months of mass pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Another activist who is being prosecuted under the law, Tam Tak-chi, went on trial this week but the proceeding has adjourned until October.

A total of 117 activists were rounded up under the law when it was first enacted. China is now making its way through those cases.

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Opponents have argued that the national security law threatens the autonomy of all Hong Kong citizens by allowing for their extradition to mainland China courts.

Amnesty International has condemned the law, calling it "the greatest threat" to human rights in Hong Kong in recent history.

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