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Hong Kong court sends 20-year-old student activist to prison for pro-democracy work

Hong Kong court sends 20-year-old student activist to prison for pro-democracy work
Tony Chung, leader of the pro-Hong Kong independence group StudentLocalism, attends a rally in Hong Kong on January 1, 2019. Tuesday, he was sentenced to 43 months in prison for violating China's national security law and money laundering. File Photo by Alex Hofford/EPA-EFE

Nov. 23 (UPI) -- A former student leader of a pro-Hong Kong independence group was sentenced on Tuesday to more than three years in prison on charges of secession and money laundering.

The activist, Tony Chung, was arrested and charged with the crimes more than a year ago and was held without bail. The charges fell under China's national security law, which is designed to crack down on dissenters and separatists actively pushing for Hong Kong's independence from Beijing.

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Chung, 20, ultimately reached an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to one charge of secession and one charge of money laundering relating to donations he received online.

As punishment, a Hong Kong court sentenced Chung Tuesday to 40 months on the secession charge and 18 months on the laundering charge. However, only three months of the laundering sentence must be served separately, giving Chung a total of 43 months in prison.

Chung was the founder of StudentLocalism, a political group that uses crowdfunding to raise money for its activities. Prosecutors said that not all of the funds, which were wired to Chung's personal account, were spent on the group's efforts.

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Prosecutors said Chung continued to manage StudentLocalism's Facebook pages and make social media posts after the national security law was enacted 17 months ago.

Chung is the third person, and the youngest so far, to be sentenced to prison under the controversial Chinese law.

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