During the “Free Hong Kong” protests last year, Tong Ying-kit, 24, drove a motorcycle into a group of police officers while holding a flag that displayed the message, “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times.”
He was sentenced to nine years in prison on Friday in the first ruling under Hong Kong’s newly established national security law.
“This overall term should sufficiently reflect the defendant’s culpability in the two offenses and the abhorrence of society, at the same time, achieving the deterrent effect required,” three judges wrote in the ruling, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The 24-year-old man “was sentenced to 6½ years in jail for inciting secession and eight years for terrorism, to be served partly consecutively and partly concurrently, resulting in a total of nine years’ imprisonment,” per The Journal.
Due to the new controversial security law, there was no jury for the trial and the judges were chosen by Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam.
Tong pleaded not guilty to the charges and the judges said if he did plead guilty, his sentence would have not been as long. The judges went on to add that “because of the alleged gravity of his offenses, his good character is not of any mitigating value.”
As The Daily Wire reported earlier this week, Hong Kong put forth its first guilty conviction under the controversial “National Security Law” that went into effect last summer.
“The Chinese Communist Party passed the Hong Kong National Security Law on June 30 of last year; the statute, according to the Biden administration, increases penalties for ‘secession’ and ‘subversion.’ Despite massive protests that attracted international attention, the law gutted civil liberties for residents of Hong Kong,” per The Daily Wire.
“It may appear lenient, as life imprisonment was a possibility. But in my view, it is not: The objective of the [national security law] is not merely to punish but also to prevent and deter others,” said Surya Deva, an associate professor of law at City University of Hong Kong. “So swift and serious penalties should be expected.”
Tong’s sentence is a “hammer blow to free speech” and reveals that the law is “a tool to instill terror” in critics of the government, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific regional director, Yamini Mishra, said in a statement.
The law “lacks any exemption for legitimate expression or protest,” Mishra said. “The judgment at no point considered Tong’s rights to freedom of expression and protest.”