Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong was sent back to jail today after losing an appeal against a court case related to the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests.
Wong, 22, was among several people accused of refusing to comply with an injunction to clear a protest site in Mong Kok on November 26, 2014, in the latter stages of the Umbrella Movement demonstrations. The 79-day civil disobedience movement had seen protesters occupying thoroughfares in Admiralty, Mong Kok, and Causeway Bay.
At the time, Wong and others were trying to prevent bailiffs from dispersing the camp after taxi and minibus groups sought a court order to clear the Mong Kok site.
Wong and 19 others were slapped with contempt of court charges, to which Wong pleaded guilty, and in January 2018 he was sentenced to three months behind bars. He then appealed that sentence, and was released on bail a few days later.
Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai, the sentencing judge, explained the sentence at the time as fitting, describing Wong’s role in obstructing the bailiffs as “deep and extensive,” according to HKFP.
Wong, 22, became one of the most recognizable faces of the Umbrella Movement, whose occupied areas paralyzed parts the city for more than two months. Protesters were demanding a greater say in how Hong Kong is run, including the right for Hongkongers to directly elect the city’s leader.
In their April appeal hearing, Wong’s lawyer maintained he had not actively obstructed the officials, and that there was no concrete evidence to suggest he led or organized the protest, HK01 reports. They also asked that the judge base their decision only on the facts of the current case, and not on Wong’s public reputation a prominent activist. Prosecutors, for their part, asserted that Wong’s efforts to “challenge” the bailiffs had escalated the situation.
In upholding the sentence, appeal Judge Jeremy Poon dismissed Wong’s argument that he had been excessively punished because of his prominence as “entirely baseless and misconceived.” However, Poon did reduce the sentence from three months to two after taking into consideration Wong’s age (he was only 17 at the time of the protest), previous apology, and early guilty plea.
Speaking to reporters before today’s hearing, Wong warned of controversial plans by Hong Kong’s government to approve extraditions to the Chinese mainland for the first time.
“Today the High Court, tomorrow the People’s Court,” he said, referring to the mainland’s judicial system.
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