Hong Kong protester sentenced to 9 years in first national security conviction
Why it matters: The 24-year-old Tong is the first person convicted under the sweeping law, which China imposed last year to help crack down on massive protests that erupted in mid-2019.
- Tong was arrested and charged after driving his motorcycle into a group of police officers at a July 1, 2020, rally. He allegedly carried a flag that read the banned slogan, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times."
- The judges ruled that Tong sought to intimidate the government and public, saying that carrying the flag was an act of incitement to secession.
- The prosecution requested that Tong's sentence, which carried a maximum of life in prison, be three years.
What they're saying: Human rights activists say the security law infringes on legitimate dissent.
- Tong’s sentence is a "hammer blow to free speech" and shows the law is "a tool to instill terror" in government critics, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific regional director, Yamini Mishra, told AP.
- The U.S. government criticized the "unjust outcome" of Tong’s trial and said the security law was used "as a political weapon to silence dissenting voices," per AP.
- The U.S. called on Beijing to "stop targeting individuals exercising their rights and freedoms."
- Chinese officials reject the criticism and say Beijing is restoring order, per AP.