5 Hong Kong Teenagers Sentenced in First National Security Case Involving Minors

By Reuters
October 8, 2022Hong Kong
5 Hong Kong Teenagers Sentenced in First National Security Case Involving Minors
A Hong Kong flag is flown behind a pair of surveillance cameras outside the Central Government Offices in Hong Kong on July 20, 2020. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

HONG KONG—Five Hong Kong teenagers were ordered by a judge on Saturday to serve up to three years in detention at a correctional facility, for urging an “armed revolution” in a national security case.

The five, some of whom were minors aged between 15 and 18 at the time of the alleged offense, had pleaded guilty to “inciting others to subvert state power” through a group named “Returning Valiant.”

Sentences for two more, aged 21 and 26, will be delivered at a later date.

Justice Kwok Wai-kin said the defendants had advocated a “revolution” to overthrow Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rule at street booths, on Instagram, and on Facebook after the adoption of a sweeping, CCP-imposed national security law.

Kwok sentenced them to a training center, or detention facility for young people, rather than jail.

The length of stay, capped at three years, is left to correctional authorities to decide.

“There’s no evidence to directly prove that anyone was incited by the defendants to subvert state power, but this real risk exists,” Kwok said.

Four of the five have already been remanded in custody for more than a year, with only one granted bail.

At least 22 people linked to the group were arrested last year. Several face a separate charge of conspiring to commit terrorism under the security law.

The CCP imposed the draconian national security law in Hong Kong after mass pro-democracy protests in 2019.

Human rights experts on the United Nations Human Rights Committee called for the law to be repealed in a July report, amid concerns it is being used to suppress fundamental freedoms.

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