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First person jailed under HK security law gets 9 years

The first person ever convicted under Hong Kong's national security law was sentenced to nine years in prison on Friday (July 30), in a watershed ruling for the city.

24-year-old former waiter Tong Ying-kit was charged with terrorist activities and inciting secession.

He was accused of driving his motorcycle into three riot police last year while carrying a flag with the protest slogan "Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our times."

The phrase was ubiquitous during Hong Kong's mass pro-democracy protests in 2019.

But judges ruled that the slogan was "capable of inciting others to commit secession."

They also said on Tuesday that Tong's motorcycle was a potentially lethal weapon and his actions "a deliberate challenge mounted against the police."

An alternative charge of dangerous driving was not considered.

Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have criticized Tong's conviction.

They say it imposes new limits on free speech and a fair trial.

Tong did not get a trial by jury because of "a perceived risk of the personal safety of jurors.”

He was also denied bail in line with a provision of the national security law that puts the onus on the defendant to prove they would not be a security threat if released.

Hong Kong and Chinese authorities have repeatedly said that all the rights and freedoms promised to the former British colony remained in place, but that national security was a red line.

Both governments have said all cases have been handled in accordance with the law.

Tong did not testify during the trial --- but pleaded not guilty to all charges.

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