Millennium Post (Kolkata)
HK democracy leaders given jail terms amid crackdown
HONG KONG: A Hong Kong court on Friday sent five leading pro-democracy advocates, including media tycoon Jimmy Lai, to up to 18 months in prison for organising a march during the 2019 anti-government protests that triggered an overwhelming crackdown from Beijing.
A total of nine advocates were given jail terms, but four of them, including 82-year-old lawyer and former lawmaker Martin Lee, had their sentences suspended after their age and accomplishments were taken into consideration.
They were found guilty earlier this month of organizing and participating in a massive protest in August 2019, where an estimated 1.7 million people marched in opposition to a bill that would have allowed suspects to be extradited to mainland China.
The march was not authorized by the police.
Their convictions and sentencing are another blow to the city's flagging democracy movement, which is facing an unprecedented crackdown by Beijing and Hong Kong authorities.
The court suspended the 11-month prison sentence of Lee, an 82-year-old lawyer and former lawmaker known for his advocacy for human rights and democracy, for two years because of his age.
Lai, the founder of Hong Kong's Apple Daily tabloid, was sentenced to 12 months in prison.
He was already held on other charges, including collusion with foreign forces to intervene in the city's affairs a new crime under a sweeping national security law that Beijing imposed on the city in 2020.
Lee Cheuk-yan, a prodemocracy activist and former lawmaker who helped organize annual candlelight vigils in Hong Kong on the anniversary of the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989, was sentenced to 12 months in prison.