Hong Kong opposition activist Agnes Chow Ting has pleaded guilty to offences relating to an anti-government protest outside police headquarters in June last year, an event that Joshua Wong Chi-fung has also been charged over.
Chow, 22, admitted in court on Monday incitement and taking part in an unauthorised assembly, before telling the media outside she was mentally prepared for serving time in jail.
But Principal Magistrate Bina Chainrai did not sentence Chow at Eastern Court, as Wong, 22, had denied the same charges and also pleaded not guilty to a third count of organising the public meeting in Wan Chai on June 21.
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A third defendant, Ivan Lam Long-yin, 25, pleaded not guilty to the count of incitement to knowingly taking part in an unauthorised assembly, a charge with a maximum penalty of three years in prison.
Their cases will move to West Kowloon Court for trial and sentencing, after Wong and Lam’s pretrial review, which is scheduled for August 5. All three were released on bail.
Chow was arrested in August last year alongside Wong, her fellow Demosisto party member, during a high-profile arrest targeting student leaders, a district councillor and a pro-independence activist.
Earlier last month, the pair revealed their decisions to withdraw from the group, which subsequently announced it was disbanding the same day, shortly after the new national security law came into force.
Wong and Chow had earlier applied for a judicial review, complaining that four court warrants granted to police to access their phones – seized at the time of arrest – and personal information at the city’s Facebook office had trampled on their privacy.
Their lawyers also argued that because of the vague wording in the warrants, police could exploit a loophole that would lead to more than 3,700 phones belonging to other protesters being searched, causing wider breaches.
Chow, who has no prior convictions, said she made the personal decision to plead guilty and was mentally prepared to serve months in prison.
“I am prepared for the possibility,” she said outside court on Monday.
“I very much hope that even if that were the case – and even if many are facing suppression – that we could all rise up to the challenge and not lose our will or beliefs.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Wong, who vowed to remain defiant.
“We will not kowtow to the communist regime,” he said. “Chilling effect exists everywhere in Hong Kong – it seems to be the new era after the national security law … But no matter what happens, and whatever price it takes, we still hope to fight until the last breath.”
Wong also called on the public and the media to pay more attention to the fate of 1,600 other lesser-known defendants charged over the protests that erupted over the now-withdrawn extradition bill last June.
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