Hong Kong convicted a democracy protester of terrorism in its first trial under China’s draconian security law

Hong kong protest
A pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong in June 2019. Anthony Kwan/Getty Images
  • A Hong Kong protester was convicted in the first trial under China’s national security law.
  • Tong Ying-kit, accused of hitting police officers with his motorbike, could get life in prison.
  • The law, imposed last year, increases the risks for anyone who criticizes China.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Hong Kong has convicted a pro-democracy protester in its first trial under the national security law imposed by China.

Tong Ying-kit, 24, was on Tuesday found guilty of terrorism and inciting secession, The New York Times reported.

He was arrested on July 1, 2020, and accused of driving his motorcycle bearing a protest flag, colliding into three police officers and injuring them, the South China Morning Post reported.

The flag said: “Liberate Hong Kong; revolution of our times,” a popular pro-democracy slogan, the Post reported.

Tong could get life in prison when he is sentenced, according to The Times.

One of the judges said, according to the Post: “When the defendant displayed the slogan in the manner he did, he intended to communicate the secessionist meaning of the slogan to others and he intended to incite others to commit secession by separating the [Hong Kong Special Administrative Region] from the [People’s Republic of China].”

But Tong’s lawyer said his collision with the police was accidental and that the slogan on his bike was ambiguous, and did not necessarily have a political message, the Post reported.

China imposed the security law on Hong Kong last June, and critics said at the time it would end the city’s semi-autonomous status.

It allowed China to set up new national-security agencies and a secret police presence in Hong Kong.

The law increases the risks for protesters and anyone else who speaks out against the Chinese government.

More than 60 people, including dozens of pro-democracy activists, have been arrested under the security law and are awaiting trial, The Times reported.