Hong Kong student gets five-years for Telegram ‘secession’ messages

Hong Kong student gets five-years for Telegram ‘secession’ messages

Hong Kong student gets five-years for Telegram ‘secession’ messages

Hong Kong student gets five-years for Telegram ‘secession’ messages

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Hong Kong judge enhanced a university student’s prison sentence to five years for messages on Telegram advocating for Hong Kong’s independence from China and demands to resist communist authority, On Friday.

Lui Sai-yu, a 25-year-old engineering student, pled guilty to “incitement to secession,” a criminal under Beijing’s national security law, enacted in 2020 to suppress dissent.

Lui is the fourth person to be imprisoned under the statute, with over 100 other cases pending.

District judge Amanda Woodcock said Lui’s posts — sent to a channel on messaging app Telegram — showed he “condoned, promoted, advocated and incited others to commit secession or undermine national unification”.

The court earlier heard that Lui’s messages include “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” — a protest slogan now deemed illegal.

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Hong Kong’s national security law imposes minimum jail terms for serious offences, a feature rarely seen in the city’s common law tradition.

Woodcock initially jailed Lui for 44 months — factoring in a sentence reduction due to his guilty plea — but prosecutors called for a harsher punishment, arguing the minimum penalty for secession under the security law was no less than five years.

The judge then amended the sentence.

Defence lawyer Edwin Choy said Woodcock’s original punishment had already reflected the seriousness of the crime.

Choy told the court that the prosecutors’ proposal of a harsher sentence “might not seem the fairest way to deal with this young man”.

Georgetown University legal scholar Eric Lai called the sentencing “bizarre”, reflecting the tension between the security law and Hong Kong’s existing criminal justice system.

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The security law has created a class of special courts and local judges have not remedied such “disturbing practices”, Lai wrote on Twitter.

Lui was first arrested in September 2020, when police raided his flat and found a pepper ball gun, two knives, a baton and protective gear associated with democracy protesters.

As part of a plea deal, Lui’s weapon charges were withdrawn.

The AFP has reached out to the Department of Justice for comment, but has yet to get a response.

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