Hong Kong Protester Is Convicted in First Trial Under Tough Security Law
The prosecution had spent much of the 15-day trial analyzing the meaning of the slogan, relying on the testimony of Lau Chi-pang, professor of history at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, that the meaning Chinese words for “liberate” and “revolution” had remained constant for over 1,000 years.
The discussion covered a range of stories, from the ancient Shang and Zhou dynasties to the Cultural Revolution and Malcolm X. Professor Lau said the slogan, coined in 2016 by Edward Leung, a now-imprisoned independence activist, called for acts of violence to end China’s control over Hong Kong.
Tong’s lawyers had argued that the phrase, widely used during protests that rocked the city in 2019, was not necessarily a call for independence.
“Just as if someone were saying let’s fight for our rights, that doesn’t necessarily mean pulling out a gun and starting shooting people,” said Clive Grossman, lead defense counsel for Mr. Tong. Two defense witnesses, Eliza Lee, professor of politics at the University of Hong Kong, and Frances Lee, professor at the school of journalism at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, testified that the expression had had several meanings these last years.
Anthony Chau, the senior prosecutor, also argued that Mr. Tong’s conduct showed “utter disregard for human life” and caused “serious violence against the police” when, after passing police officers who had trained three queues to stop him, he crashed into officers who had rushed to form a fourth checkpoint.
Mr. Grossman admitted that Mr. Tong’s driving was dangerous and that he should have stopped on the orders of the officers, but said that this did not constitute terrorism. He claimed that Mr. Tong had avoided the police at the previous checkpoints and braked at the fourth but could have been distracted when at least one officer threw a shield.
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