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Hong Kong student leader convicted for protests

July 21, 2016

Hong Kong student leader Joshua Wong has been convicted of participating in a protest that led to the city's mass pro-democracy rallies in September 2014. The 19-year-old has slammed his case as political persecution.

Joshua Wong
Image: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

A leading figure in Hong Kong's "Umbrella Movement", Joshua Wong, was found guilty on Thursday of taking part in an unlawful assembly. The verdict could see Wong jailed for up to five years.

The "Umbrella Movement" brought parts of Hong Kong to a standstill for more than two months in 2014, as residents called on Beijing to allow fully free elections of future leaders in the semi-autonomous city.

On September 26, 2014, Wong and other students climbed into a Hong Kong government complex forecourt known as Civic Square. The protest triggered wider rallies that escalated two days later when police fired tear gas to disperse crowds.

Sentencing due in August

Fellow student leaders Alex Chow and Nathan Law were also convicted over the same protest Thursday - Chow for taking part and Law for inciting others to do so.

All three defendants were released on bail and are due back on court on August 15 for sentencing.

Wong has appeared in court on numerous occasions over the past year after being charged with multiple offenses linked to various protest actions.

He was acquitted in June over an anti-China protest in the first of a series of cases against him to reach a verdict.

Nomination vetting

The protests in fall 2014 aimed to pressure Beijing into allowing Hong Kong to accept open nominations in the 2017 leadership elections.

At their height, the rallies drew tens of thousands of people. Despite the protests, Beijing refused to change its stance, after announcing in late August 2014 that candidates for next year's leadership elections would first have to be vetted by a loyalist committee.

Britain handed Hong Kong back to the Chinese government in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" scheme that allows Hong Kong a degree of autonomy from the mainland and envisages eventual "universal suffrage."

ksb/kms (AFP, AP)

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