BREAKING: Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong returns to jail after failed Umbrella Movement appeal

Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong was given a prison sentence on Thursday after failing to appeal a court case on the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement. However, the appeal judge shortened the sentence from three months to two.

Wong was among the protesters who failed to comply with an injunction to clear the 2014 Umbrella Movement protest site in Mong Kok. He and 19 others were charged with contempt of court, to which Wong pleaded guilty.

In January 2018, the court sentenced Wong to three months in prison. Wong chose to appeal the sentence and was released on bail on January 23, having served six days of jail time.

Joshua Wong

Joshua Wong. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

First instance judge Andrew Chan said at the time that immediate imprisonment was “appropriate,” because Wong had “deep and extensive” involvement in obstructing the clearance of the Mong Kok site. “He played a leading role that day,” Chan said.

Defence lawyer Lawrence Lok argued in an April hearing that the sentence was overly harsh. Wong only posed questions to people tasked with enforcing the injunction, Lok said, and there was no evidence to say Wong played a leading role except that he stood on a raised platform.

The prosecutors replied that Wong’s actions were “self-evident” as they were captured on video. Wong escalated the tension between the parties, and his actions to “challenge” those enforcing the injunction led to emotional exchanges.

Lok also argued that Wong’s age – below 21 at the time of the incident – was not taken into consideration at the sentencing stage. The prosecuting lawyer agreed that Wong’s youth was relevant to sentencing, but was only one factor among many.

Hong Kong Police

Police clearing Mong Kok protest site in 2014. File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Lok said that the court should consider a suspended sentence, or reducing the jail time so that Wong could be released immediately.

In September, Wong asked the court to relax his bail requirements so that he could leave the city, saying that he had to attend overseas forums and collect prizes. His application was denied.

Aside from Wong, the other original defendants of the Mong Kok contempt of court case were: Raphael Wong, Lester Shum, Chau Wan-ying, Chu Wai-lun, Cheung Kai-yin, Chu Pui-yan, Ma Po-kwan, Kwok Yeung-yuk, Chiu Chi-sum, Chan Po-ying, Cheung Kai-hong, Kwan Siu-wang, Hung Cheuk-lun, Fung Kai-hei, Choi Tat-shing, Szeto Tze-long Jason, Wong Lai-wan, Yeung Ho-wah and Mak Ying-sheung.

Raphael Wong received a four-and-a-half month jail term, while the remaining defendants had their sentences suspended.

More to follow.

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