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Hong Kong defendant Tong Ying-Kit arrives at court after being accused of deliberately driving his motorcycle into a group of police officers. Photo: Getty Images/Getty Images

Pro-democracy protester Tong Ying-kit was sentenced Friday to nine years in prison on charges of terrorism and inciting secession brought under Hong Kong’s national security law, AP reports.

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.

Go deeper: Beijing's national security law leaves Hong Kong in an authoritarian home

Go deeper

Updated Sep 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Smaller than expected "Justice for J6" rally met with large police presence

Police officers watch as demonstrators gather for the "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18, 2021. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

A few hundred demonstrators were met by a heavy law enforcement presence on Saturday at the "Justice for J6" rally outside the fenced-off U.S. Capitol, AP reports.

The latest: Four people were arrested at the rally, including one person with a gun, one with a knife and two with outstanding warrants, per the U.S. Capitol Police.

Rahm Emanuel questioned on murder of Laquan McDonald in confirmation hearing

Rahm Emanuel during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Oct. 20. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke about the murder of Laquan McDonald during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday to become the U.S. ambassador to Japan, saying that "there's not a day or a week that has gone by in the last seven years I haven't thought about this."

Catch up quick: McDonald was a Black teenager who was fatally shot 16 times by Chicago police during Emanuel's tenure as the city's mayor. The 2014 shooting triggered massive protests, both because of its nature and the fact that the officers' body-cam footage was concealed for years.

3 hours ago - World

Biden's ambassador nominee: "China is not an Olympian power"

Nick Burns testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee to serve as ambassador to China delivered a stark assessment of the challenges the U.S. faces in confronting Beijing, but stressed that the rising superpower is "not all-powerful" and the West retains "substantial" advantages.

The big picture: Nicholas Burns, a retired career diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to NATO, used his confirmation hearing Wednesday to echo the growing bipartisan consensus that China poses "the greatest threat to the security of our country and the democratic world" in the 21st century.

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