Hong Kong student sentenced to 5 years in jail for sending pro-independence messages on Telegram

ByLavinia E. Smith

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An engineering student from Hong Kong has been sentenced to five years in jail for advocating the city’s independence from the Chinese Communist Social gathering in his messages despatched on fast messaging application Telegram.

Lui Sai-yu, a 25-calendar year-aged undergraduate scholar at the Hong Kong Polytechnic College, was billed with “incitement to secession” in April 2021 beneath the 2020 Beijing imposition of the nationwide security regulation.

Lui was initially sentenced to 3 years and 8 months by Choose Amanda Woodcock when his responsible plea lowered 1 third of his sentence nonetheless, it was increased to 5 yrs on Friday immediately after prosecutor Ivan Cheung argued his criminal offense was of a “major mother nature.” Woodcock was certain by Write-up 21 of the security law to sentence the college student to at minimum 5 decades.

The pupil was initially arrested in September 2020 adhering to a police raid in his flat in Fanling. Police seized an extendable law enforcement baton, two military services knives, a pepper ball launcher and protective gear.

In trade for the prosecutors dropping two fees from his possession of firearms and offensive weapons, Liu pleaded guilty on Wednesday.

The prosecutor explained Liu co-managed the Telegram platform “Channel of Anti-Communism and Hong Kong Independence” to simply call for independence. Investigators located far more than 1,000 offending messages despatched by Liu that incorporated statements these kinds of as “Liberate Hong Kong revolution of our periods,” “Hong Kong independence, the only way out” and “Fight versus totalitarianism.”

“By deciding upon the forum of an open up Telegram channel, the defendant and the other administrator supposed to arrive at out to as several as possible,” the judge explained. “This offense was dedicated in the course of a time when there was social unrest and heightened anti-authorities sentiment. In this context and in these kinds of a social weather the offense aggravated the pitfalls of general public and social disorder.”

Liu’s attorney, Edwin Choy Wai-bond, is thinking about an appeal. He claimed that submitting on Telegram differs from speaking in general public, specially given that his client is not a properly-identified individual and only has minimal impact.

In a mitigation letter, Liu advised the judge that his intention was to “let the voice of folks be read.” He referenced the 2019 Hong Kong protests, which was fueled by citizens’ anxiety of China eradicating the freedoms promised to the island when it was returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997. Authorities, however, say the legislation does not erode any freedoms and was intended to restore stability just after the protests.

“It was complicated for an energetic and idealistic younger person to hold absolutely uninvolved,” Lui wrote. “My love for Hong Kong was no less than anybody else’s.”

Lui is the fourth human being to be jailed underneath the 2020 countrywide safety legislation that criminalizes any acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with overseas or exterior forces with up to existence imprisonment.


Showcased Graphic by means of Handout through SCMP

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