First person charged under Hong Kong security law due in court

The first person to be charged with violating Hong Kong’s new national security law, 23-year-old Tong Ying-kit, will today attend

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Photo: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

The first person to be charged with violating Hong Kong’s new national security law, 23-year-old Tong Ying-kit, will today attend his first hearing.

Tong is accused of terrorism and secessionist activities after allegedly crashing into police officers on a motorbike while carrying an independence flag. The law—which promises sentences up to life in prison for acts of terrorism, subversion, secession and collusion with foreign forces—already saw ten arrests within its first day.

Democracy advocates have lambasted the new law, suggesting that it effectively ends Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous democratic governance. Although some locals have taken to the streets to protest the new limits on their expression, many now fear the repercussions and numerous long-time protesters have deleted their social media accounts.

Observers note that China may face economic and diplomatic consequences for the measure as lawmakers in Western countries are discussing possible sanctions. Many fear that as Hong Kong loses political and judicial independence from the mainland, it will become less appealing to investors, who could be extradited and tried under China’s notoriously political judicial system. In any case, the law deals a harsh blow to Hong Kong’s protest movement as demonstrating could bring a life sentence.

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