Hong Kong protester faces city’s first security law trial
Mr. Tong’s lawyers are expected to argue, like many protesters, that the expression represents a desire to reclaim Hong Kong’s unique identity from Beijing’s authoritarian influence. The government said the slogan represented a call for independence and thus violated the security law.
Whether a political slogan could constitute a criminal offense is still a new and troubling idea in Hong Kong, where residents have enjoyed decades of the right to protest, freedoms largely unseen in mainland China.
“You have to take the context into account. The words he had, we have to understand that during this period, these words were quite commonly spoken and displayed on many flags and banners during peaceful and even non-peaceful protests in Hong Kong, ”said Eric Cheung. , professor of law at the University of Hong Kong.
“The meaning of these words differs from person to person,” Mr. Cheung said. “You are now saying that the use of these words only has the meaning that amounts to the intention to subvert the country, I think that is a debate.”
Although Mr. Tong is not convicted of terrorism, he faces a separate charge of causing grievous bodily harm by dangerous driving, carrying a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.
While awaiting trial, Mr. Tong shared a cell with 10 men, according to Shiu Ka-chun, a former lawmaker who wrote on his social media page last year that he visited him regularly. Mr. Shiu declined to comment on Mr. Tong. But in his social media posts, he wrote that Mr. Tong had read books on history, including a memoir by Lee Teng-hui, Taiwan‘s first democratically elected president.
“For the comrades who continue to take a stand, he says to wait and be patient,” Mr. Shiu wrote. “For those who have left Hong Kong, he looks at this calmly and thinks, ‘Hong Kong is in your hearts, everywhere is Hong Kong. “”