20-year-old Hong Kong independence activist sentenced to 43 months in prison under China security law

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Tony Chung, the 20-year-old former leader of Hong Kong activist group Studentlocalism, has been sentenced to three years and seven months of imprisonment, making him the youngest person jailed under China’s security law.

What happened: Chung’s sentence was reduced after he entered a plea bargain on Tuesday to secession and money laundering charges, according to The Washington Post. The court explained that Chung had allegedly used the donations he received on PayPal to boost his Hong Kong pro-independence organization.

  • While Chung entered a plea bargain to reduce his sentence by a quarter, he chose not to plead guilty to a sedition charge and another money laundering accusation, CNN reported.
  • He actively organized, planned and implemented activities to separate the country,” District Court Judge Stanley Chan said on Chung’s sentencing.
  • Prosecutor Ivan Cheung said Chung was the administrator of the Facebook page of Studentlocalism’s U.S. branch, as well as that of  another organization called the Initiative Independence Party. Several pro-independence materials were also reportedly discovered in his home, including T-shirts, flags and books.

Other details: Chung became involved in politics when he was still in high school. He co-founded Studentlocalism, an organization that supported Hong Kong’s independence and advocated it in schools. The group disbanded in June 2020 before China implemented the national security law.

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  • The student activist also faced charges last year for participating in a protest in 2019 and desecrating China’s flag. Chung was the third person to go on trial under the national security law after 24-year-old Tong Ying-kit and 31-year-old Ma Chun-man.

His arrest: Chung sought asylum at the U.S. consulate in Hong Kong on Oct. 27, 2020. He was 19 at the time and on bail when he and two other activists, Yanni Ho and William Chan, were detained by unidentified men, The Guardian reported. Hong Kong police confirmed later on the day of his arrest that three people aged between 17 and 21 had been arrested for violating the national security law.

  • Earlier in July of the same year, Chung was arrested for advocating the independence of Hong Kong. His passport was taken, but he was eventually released on bail.

Featured Image via Dick Rochester (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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