One of Hong Kong's most prominent democracy activists, 24-year-old Joshua Wong was jailed for a total of 13.5 months on Wednesday after pleading guilty to unlawful gathering charges in anti-government protests last year.
Wong's longtime colleagues Agnes Chow, 23, and Ivan Lam, 26, were jailed for a total of ten and seven months respectively after pleading guilty to the siege of police headquarters at the height of protests in June 2019.
The protest took place on June 21 last year, and thousands surrounded police headquarters as they demonstrated against excessive police violence against demonstrators, as well as a now withdrawn extradition law that would have allowed the extradition of suspects to mainland China.
In June, Beijing passed a comprehensive national security law against Hong Kong to counter dissent.
The judge reduced the sentences according to their confessions of guilt.
Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong is escorted to a prison van by law enforcement officers before appearing in a Hong Kong court on Wednesday. He was sentenced to 13.5 months in prison for his involvement in last year's anti-government demonstrations
Wong gained international fame as one of the leaders in the 2014 Hong Kong student-led Umbrella Democracy Protests, which were screened in October 2019
Their verdicts come as government critics say they are tightening crackdown on the China-ruled city's far-reaching freedoms guaranteed when Britain returned them to Beijing in 1997, denied by prosecutors in China and Hong Kong.
Wong gained international fame as one of the leaders of the 2014 student-led umbrella democracy protests in Hong Kong that blocked the streets in the heart of the financial center for 79 days.
Two years earlier, at the age of 15, and with the help of secondary school activists who formed a group called Scholarism, he forced the Hong Kong government to postpone plans to introduce a pro-Chinese national education program in schools.
Pictured L-R: Agnes Chow, Ivan Lam and Joshua Wong arrive at West Kowloon Magistrates Court in Hong Kong. The trio were jailed for participating in pro-democracy protests in the city last year
Wong, a familiar face at protests in Hong Kong, is no stranger to prison either. He spent five weeks in jail last year – his third term – for disobeying the court, before being released in June when anti-government demonstrations were well underway.
The activist with glasses was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for his leading role in the umbrella movement.
Wong's pro-democracy group Demosisto disbanded hours after China passed a national security law in June that punishes what it commonly defines as riot, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life imprisonment.
Supporters of Hong Kong activists Joshua Wong, Ivan Lam and Agnes Chow waved to a law enforcement vehicle outside a Hong Kong court last week
Pictured: A person is arrested by a policeman in protective clothing during the Hong Kong protests in November, which resulted in violent clashes between police and protesters across the city
Pictured: Police fired tear gas outside government headquarters last year as pro-democracy protesters continued their demonstration against a law later passed allowing extraditions to mainland China
He is one of more than a dozen young, more confrontational politicians who outperformed Old Guard Democrats in unofficial opposition primaries in July.
Many saw the election as a protest against the national security legislation Beijing imposed on the city on June 30th.
Wong was also among the twelve opposition candidates who were banned from running for a seat on the city's legislature in September elections, which were postponed due to COVID-19.
While Wong was not a leading figure in the often violent protests that rocked the semi-autonomous financial center last year, he has stepped up support for the democracy movement abroad.
Protesters carry umbrellas as they march down a street in Hong Kong last year
Wong has met politicians from the US, Europe and other countries and has drawn the wrath of Beijing for claiming it is a "black hand" of foreign forces.
"If my voice is not heard soon, I hope that the international community will continue to stand up for Hong Kong and make concrete efforts to defend our last bit of freedom," said Wong when he stepped down from Demosisto in June.
Wong has also written opinion pieces in international newspapers as he went from being a skinny, boyish-looking teenage protester to an international lobbyist.
Wong has been arrested repeatedly for his role in organizing pro-democracy rallies. In 2018 he was sentenced to a second prison term of three months in what one judge described as his "leading" role in protests.
Wong has been charged several times in connection with the protests last year and attending an illegal gathering on June 4, 2020 to commemorate the crackdown on pro-democracy students on and around Tiananmen Square in 1989.