Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong pleads guilty to charges related to protests

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong has been remanded in custody after pleading guilty to charges related to a protest outside police headquarters last year, during months of unrest over a proposed extradition bill with China.

Wong, who faces up to three years in prison according to his lawyer, was charged alongside two other activists, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam, for what prosecutors said was their role in inciting, organizing and knowingly taking part in the unauthorized assembly, which took place on June 21 last year.

During a court hearing on Monday, Wong, 24, pleaded guilty to two charges relating to inciting and organizing the protest. The prosecution offered no evidence for the third charge in relation to his participation in the protest. Chow pleaded guilty to incitement and participation charges, while Lam also pleaded guilty to incitement charges.

The magistrate remanded them in custody ahead of sentencing on December 2.

Speaking before the trial, Wong said it “would not be surprising” if the court had him detained, but said “neither prison bars, nor election ban, nor any other arbitrary powers would stop us.”

“Perhaps the authorities wish me to stay in prison one term after another,” Wong added. “What we are doing now is to explain the value of freedom to the world, through our compassion to whom we love, so much that we are willing to sacrifice the freedom of our own.”

Monday’s trial was only the latest in a series of prosecutions and arrests this year in relation to the 2019 protests. Wong himself is facing other charges over a rally in October last year, and police have said investigations into the unrest are continuing.

Earlier this month, a number of former pro-democracy lawmakers were arrested over protests staged in the city’s legislature.

The protests have largely been eclipsed politically, however, by the national security law imposed on the city by Beijing this summer. The law criminalizes secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces and carries with it strict prison terms.

It was used to justify barring Wong and a number of other candidates from standing for elections that were due to be held in September.